THE ASSYRIAN PAST

TALIN GHAZARIAN

 
 

The historicism and classicism of academic painting formed Gustav, the movement’s first president. A large number of his works act as an affront to academic painting. Ironically, he turned to marginalized, non-Western Byzantine, Egyptian, and Assyrian traditions, dazzled by the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna. An iconic religiosity! His Judith _________, painted in 19__, is no exception. From the Renaissance on, the story of both beauty and a powerful body, the female heroine. Gustav’s composition however; he portrays her as the Assyrian; he visually returns her to her hometown of Bethulia in Judah, and to Antiquity at the turn of the century.
 
Gustav’s Judith _________, tasked with destroying the Assyrian campaign in Judah. First he finally falls asleep; Judith and her enemy; triumphantly presenting the head to the viewer in contrast.
 
Gustav’s Judith tilts her head back. She gazes at the viewer. A translucent cloth covered in gold rosettes drapes her. Under the transparent fabric, in the lower right hand corner of the composition, cropped by the gold frame Gustav—an intentional visual strategy—inspires a similar response of attraction. She arrived at his camp, that darkened head of Holofernes.
 
The trophy head of Holofernes. Given the writing about guilt, sexuality, community, and anxiety, it seems appropriate that Judith thwarts the moment of the Assyrian campaign
(c. 721-701 BCE). The Assyrian capitals at Nimrud and Nineveh near modern-day Mosul, composed of ovular-shaped forms layered together; stylized trees; another tree reaches upward; the abstract; mountainous terrain, specifically the terrain of Lachish. The backgrounds of the Lachish reliefs feature ovular patterning (Fig. 3). No other depictions of Judah exist in Assyrian palatial reliefs. As aforementioned, the visual vocabulary. A loss for the Assyrians.
 
In addition: the Assyrians, stylized palm trees, the Assyrian king behind him. A stylized tree with pinecone-like forms hanging from its branches, Gustav.
 
Not only does Gustav replicate Assyrian landscape codes. His depiction of the garment Judith wears—the circular patterns on the fabric cloaking Judith _________—parallels the characteristics and domains of beheading during a time of war. In a sense, she assumes the identity of the invading force’s Assyrian formula. Judith becomes his engagement with the history and visual culture of the ancient empire.
 
Both in London and in Paris the Assyrian. Nimrud and Nineveh. The Assyrians. The Assyrians. Classical texts that antagonized the Ancient Near East. The Western fantasy in pastel colors.
 
It is known that Gustav did not visit until 19__, five years after he painted Judith _________. Therefore he did not observe the Assyrians in person. Rather, he must have relied on the academic publications by German and Austrian scholars of art, architecture, and ornament like Gottfried, both of whom responded and included their timelines. Exposed to the legendary Assyrian findings, France sketched an image of a king wearing a gown. Comprehensive study into the origin and evolution of motifs, costuming, and textiles in Assyrian stone carvings—human desire—the Assyrian pantheon—suggests the protective quality of the Symbol.
 
Gustav’s understanding of the Assyrians relied on the publication of Monuments of Nineveh in 18__,—the palatial reliefs. The book includes illustrations of rosettes on clothing. It also has a collection of images devoted to Judith.
 
Gustav’s exposure to Assyrian art needs further study.
 
Judith _________ engages with the decorative past, then transposes the terrain of Judah into a stylized landscape. The choices signal some knowledge of the Assyrian and artistic debates in the German-speaking world at that time, yes; moreover, Judith—Gustav’s Judith—embodies the desire for Neo-Assyrian sparks, associations. Tasked with conquering the territory of Judah, the Assyrians’ visual language seems deliberate: Judith _________. Discussions of alterity run parallel to the experiences of Judith.

 

 

 
 

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