In Klimt's famous painting "Judith" created in 1901, eroticism and cruelty are combined into an inseparable entity. The biblical heroine Judith beheaded Assyrian general Holofernes during a night of passion to save her Jewish people from their downfall. With a slightly reclined head and lasciviously open mouth, the Judith in Klimt's painting gives the viewer a seductive look through half-open eyes. Her breasts are more revealed than covered by the thin silk fabric. The distinctive type of woman chosen by the painter, with her fashionably pinned hair, reveals a standard of beauty corresponding to the current style around 1900. Klimt's refined style of painting, which seems to cleverly submerge the character of Judith in a fog of sfumato, highlights her particular appeal and charisma. It is only upon second glance that the viewer discovers the severed head of Holofernes that appears to be slipping from the hands of the beautiful female figure. Klimt's Judith combines equal amounts of attractive eroticism and severe cruelty in a fascinating manner. She embodies the "femme fatale," a character refined around the turn of the century by numerous other artists.
The slightly exotic-looking frame with the inscription "Judith and Holofernes" was made by Gustav Klimt's brother Georg based on Gustav's designs.