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Fishman, G.G. (1986). American Imago. XXXVIII, 1981: Artemisia Gentileschi's The Murder of Holofernes. Marcia Pointon. Pp. 343-368.. Psychoanal Q., 55:196.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XXXVIII, 1981: Artemisia Gentileschi's The Murder of Holofernes. Marcia Pointon. Pp. 343-368.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:196

American Imago. XXXVIII, 1981: Artemisia Gentileschi's The Murder of Holofernes. Marcia Pointon. Pp. 343-368.

George G. Fishman

Pointon analyzes the shock of this gory painting by the seventeenth century female artist. The painter herself had been raped prior to the commission of this work. She also married and gave birth to a daughter. Pointon suggests that both events form a poignant context for understanding the violence of the work. She believes that the posture of Holofernes in the painting depicts a birth. His arms are likened to the V shape of a woman's legs during childbirth. His bloodied head and its anguished expression are analogous both to the fetus and the mother in pain. Pointon writes that the seducer is punished with the pain that might have befallen his victim if she had conceived. The sexual reversal accounts for part of the shock effect of the imagery. Other factors contributing to a sense of visual dissonance are also discussed.


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Article Citation

Fishman, G.G. (1986). American Imago. XXXVIII, 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 55:196

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.