Sir Edward John Poynter Bt PRA RWS (1839-1919)



9¾ X 3½ inches (24.8 x 8.9 cm).

Private Collection

Poynter painted this work, one of only a few surviving watercolours of his from the 1850s, the same year he enrolled in Gleyre's atelier in Paris. The subject of Abigail may in fact have been misidentified by Sotheby’s and this watercolour could just as as a companion piece to his Judith and Holofernes, which is likely slightly later in date. Both works are similar in style and treatment, in particular the rather dark palette, the long faces, and the white headdresses of the two women. Judith and Holofernes would then simply represent a later scene within the same narrative.

Poynter's inspiration to paint two scenes from this story may have been two small pictures by Sandro Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence of c. 1467-72. In one painting Botticelli depicts the Assyrians finding Holofernes' decapitated body, while the second shows Judith and her maid returning to Bethulia with Holofernes' head in a basket. — Dennis T. Lanigan

Click on image to enlarge it

  • Judith and Holofernes
  • You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. — George P. Landow]