Skip to main content

Judith and Holofernes: C.2170-1928

An image of Figure group

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Judith and Holofernes


Workshop: Unidentified (Probably)
Workshop: Della Robbia, Giovanni (After)




Pale buff terracotta, decorated with coloured tin-glazes

Pale buff terracotta, tin-glazed on all surfaces except the back of the pedestal and interior, which is hollow. Glaze colours are blue, yellow, brownish-yellow, brown, manganese-purple and red.
Judith stands on a rectangular pedestal, moulded in relief with an acanthus leaf on each front corner and with a frieze of figures across the front. Her weight is on her right foot and she rests her left on the torso of Holofernes, whose left shoulder and arm project over the edge of the pedestal. Judith holds his decapitated head by its hair in her left hand; her right arm is raised, the hand grasping a sword hilt (the blade missing). She has long hair, waist length at the back, falling in ringlets over her shoulders at the side. She wears a long gown with elbow-length sleeves, and a full-skirted, sleeveless tunic, fastened by a belt and doubled up over her hips. She has sandals, a bead armlet on each arm and a small tiara or frontlet.
The pedestal is yellow with a purple top. Judith's hair is brownish-yellow. Her gown is white with a yellow hem. Her over-gown is blue with yellow ornament round the neck, a yellow belt and hem. Her sandals are purple, her tiara, armlets and sword hilt yellow. Her flesh is tinted slightly pink and her features are delineated in manganese. Holofernes' torso is greyish-white; the edge of his neck is red, his hair and beard brown and his features manganese.


History note: Dr William Whewell D.D. (1794-1866), Master of Trinity College, Cambridge; Dr Bampstead, Leighton, Trumpington Road, Cambridge; sold on the premises, 14-17th August, 1917, his sale lot 20; sold for £1 to Mr Jolley of Cambridge, by whom sold for £4.10s. on 6 October 1917 to Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 62 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Florence ⪼ Tuscany ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


19th Century, first half#
19th Century, Mid#
Circa 1800 CE - 1860 CE


The story of how Judith, a virtuous widow, saved the Israelites from defeat by the Assyrians by decapitating their general, Holofernes, while he slept in a drunken supor, is described in the Apocryphal Book of Judith XIII, 7-8. In art, the theme symbolized the triumph of humility over pride and vice, and we well known to Florentines through Donatello's bronze in the Piazza della Signoria.

The tin-glazed terracotta group of Judith was attributed to Giovanni Della Robbia (1469-1529/3- by Marquand (1920), and this opinion was upheld by Gentilini (nd 1992). Nine examples, excluding the Fitzwilliam/s have been recorded with their present locations by Tscermak von Seysenegg (1986 and 1989). Each model differs in some respects from the others. Rackham (1935) dated this example to about 1525 but it was probably made in the mid-19th century, The revised dating follows thermoluminescence analysis by the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford (sample 581m28 taken 8 October 1993, report dated 19 November 1993) which estimated that the material of the sample was last fired less than 200 years ago, i.e. after 1793. It is not known when Whewell purchased it or whether it belonged to one of his two wives, but given his date of death in 1866 it must have been made before the 1860s.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of tin-glaze ( white, blue, yellow, brownish-yellow, brown, manganese-purple and red)
Base Depth 21.5 cm
Base At Front Width 28 cm

Materials used in production

pale buff Terracotta

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: rectangular with blue printed border

  • Text: 4674/...
  • Method of creation: Inscribed in black ink in J.W.L. Glaisher's hand
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: circular white paper label

  • Text: '.J.W.L. GLAISHER./COLLECTION' printed in a circle around '4674' in black ink
  • Method of creation: Printed in black and hand-written in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.2170-1928
Primary reference Number: 48211
Old object number: 4674
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Judith and Holofernes" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-22 07:23:48

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Judith and Holofernes |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-06-22 07:23:48|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="Judith and Holofernes"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Judith and Holofernes</figcaption>

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...