The exotic painting of Judith I, is widely known and interpreted as the personification of Salome.

Judith is portrayed as a strong femme fatale

who is proud of her beauty and confident about her sensuality. 

Her expression and poise projects an illusion of being dangerously unpredictable with mysterious powers.


GUSTAV KLIMT   –   Judith I   –   1901


The femme fatale was a popular subject at the turn of the century (20th).  The fact that she was perceived as being dangerous or threatening, reflected the contemporary views of women and their changing roles within society at the time.

Attitudes were changing towards the roles of the two sexes.  Dramatic changes within society, politically and economically were changing the previous social landscape.

Gustav Klimt reflected some of these changes in attitudes within many of his works by portraying his female characters as exotic and sensual women with a quietly defiant inner strength.  These ‘strong’ female characters were also used to symbolise various over-powering emotions.  JUDITH I (Eroticism, Power, Revenge), the BEETHOVEN FRIEZE (Hostility), JUSTICE (Threats, Fear).

Even though Klimt’s women are shown as being strong-willed and powerful, they are also worshipped as precious beings with heavenly qualities.  They are covered in gold and presented not just as women but as religious Icons.  They are much more than just mere mortals.

Judith I celebrates the femme fatale of the era, but more significantly marks the beginning of Klimt’s “Golden Style”, which reached its peak in the second and different version of Judith II in 1909.


This is the second of my favourite Klimt “Golden Style” / “Golden Phase” paintings.

Judith’s expression hints at several different private thoughts,

but behind her daring smile

she knows that we are totally under her spell and completely in awe of her.




TITLE :  Judith I

PAINTED :  1901

FORMAT  :  Oil, Gold Leaf and Silver Leaf on Canvas

SIZE  :  84 cm  x  42 cm

GUSTAV KLIMT WEBSITE  :    http://www.klimt.com

LOCATED  :  Oesterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria  (The Belvedere Gallery)

BELVEDERE WEBSITE  :   http://www.belvedere.at/gustav-klimt


Leave a Reply