Murderous Art!

One of the great pleasures of living in New York—or another Art-center—is the possibility of returning over and over again to visit world-class collections of art. The depth and breadth of the Metropolitan Museum’s collection is extraordinary. For the second year in a row, it won the number one spot in the Top 25 Museums of the World from Trip Advisor. With the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam coming in at number 14, Musee du Louvre in Paris at 13, the British Museum in London at 8, the Prado in Madrid at 7, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg at 2—winning number 1 is a BIG deal.

As a local, I don’t feel like I have to see a large number of artworks to make a visit “worthwhile.” In fact, I often dip into a section of the regular collection after seeing a special exhibit, just to amuse myself or find inspiration. I was at a meeting near the Met last Saturday and decided to stop by and visit European Paintings for no particular reason at all. It would be a short visit, just a nibble of art at the end of a long afternoon.

Seeing art without an agenda is fun. It opens you up to seeing something you may have missed in the past. This visit was also unusual because the rooms of European paintings (familiar turf for me) were being rearranged, with some rooms off limits behind temporary walls and some of my landmark paintings moved or missing.

After musing over the Caravaggio depicting the Three Denials of Peter, a work of art that never fails to call out to me from afar, I meandered aimlessly, discovering some “murderous” inspiration for mystery fiction. It’s hard not to find bits and pieces of stories flying in the air around Cranach the Elder’s ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes.’

Some writers find inspiration from a walk in the woods. My walk is through a forest of paintings!

Cranach the Elder’s ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes' at the MET Museum in NYC.

Cranach the Elder’s ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes’ at the MET Museum in NYC.


  1. Oh…my….? I had to look and look again. I had no idea ‘classical’ art was so bloodthirsty. I mean, yes, I know that much of it was inspired by events and stories of religious significance – the Church was The patron of the arts back then – but still, that painting of Judith could grace the cover of a modern horror story without looking at all out of place.

    • Candy Korman

      Oh yes! Plenty of blood, guts and gore in throughout art history. Violent stories from classical mythology and the bible supply an endless source for shocking images. The same goes for sex. Even during the most prudish times, the same sources provided ways to paint nudity. The biblical story of Susanna and the Elders gave everybody the opportunity to paint a beautiful naked woman about to take a bath in a stream, being spied on by lustful elders. The men try to blackmail her into sex. She refuses them and they accuse her of adultery. She prevails. Quite a story!

      Sex & violence, blood & guts, hidden meanings & mysteries… lots of sources of inspiration in a good museum.