Judith And Holofernes Envelope


This envelope features a detail of a painting by Giorgio Vasari, called Judith and Holofernes, ca. 1554. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Do you know the story of Judith and Holofernes? Holofernes was an Assyrian general, about to destroy Judith’s home city and everyone in it. Judith, a beautiful widow, is able to enter his tent because of his desire for her. Overcome with drink, he passes out and is decapitated by Judith, and his head is taken away in a basket. During the Renaissance, this story was often painted as a celebration of the motif of powerful women that was gaining popularity in art.
On a visit to France as a young art student, I had the pleasure of seeing one of these exquisite paintings in person. I was standing on the second floor of a stunningly historic museum, gazing into the eyes of Holofernes’ life-size head. Suddenly, an astonishing sound echoed up the circular staircase from below. It sounded like a cacophony of angels and demons, mounting from almost classical harmonies to some otherworldly chorus. It was excruciatingly beautiful. As the sound approached, I was transfixed. It seemed like an impossible series of notes, and was utterly transporting..,
As the sound approached, I suddenly saw the source. A group of tiny schoolchildren had entered the building and were climbing the stairs. It was a trick of the miraculous architectural features that modulated the sound into a work of art.
Ever since then, when I think of Judith and Holofernes, I am reminded that we too can shape the world around us in seemingly impossible ways. With craft and imagination, we can curate our reality to elevate value experiences, and create moments of beauty, even in moments where hope seems lost.
If you need a reminder of your own strength or a way to thank someone else for theirs, please accept this Judith and Holofernes envelope as a gift from me.

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