When I look at Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes,
I always focus on Judith’s clenched fist in the foreground; to me, it
reinforces the physical violence of the scene. Viewing Auguste Rodin’s Burghers of Callais
I gain a heightened awareness of my own body, as if I too were
experiencing physical fatigue and despair depicted in the hunched
shoulders and weary stances of the figures. The sensation is like
looking in a mirror, even though I share no resemblance to the subject.
This is, in part, because of the rendering of the human form—in both
works the artists display such anatomical accuracy and virtuosity that
one can’t help but identify with the physicality of the images.