Valentin of Boulogne is the greatest French Caravaggesque painter. His whole life as an artist was spent in Rome where he received every honour, amongst which the privilege of painting for Saint Peter. The story of Judith saving the Jewish people by killing the giant Holofernes is one of the favourite subjects of Caravaggio’s disciples, but Valentin addresses it in a particularly original way, with no violence. He takes up the device of the isolated figure only partially shown and represents a splendid Roman matron expressing a melancholic seriousness. With her finger held aloft, she seems to be highlighting the exemplary role of her act. Valentin didn’t prepare his paintings with drawings. This explains why he tried subtly different positions for elements of the painting as can be seen from the visible hesitation as to where to place Judith’s hand. The piece belonged to Louis XIV who had it hung in his chamber.