This scene is inspired by religious scripture, namely the Book of Judges, verses 4:11-22 and 5:24-31. Jael, on the right, is preparing to murder Sisera, who lies on the ground. She holds a tent peg in her hand and prepares to hammer it into his head. She had earlier taken him in before deciding upon this act whilst he slept. There are some details around this painting which are confusing - we believe that it would have been completed in Rome, but to a Florentine donor, which was unusual for her at that time. Various elements of the painting fell into disrepair in the years that have passed since then, but alterations have been made in order to restore it to its former glory. The subject of Jael and Sisera is rarely seen in the years prior to this artist's career, meaning we are unable to compare it to similar work from any other artists.
Several elements of this scene are typical of the artist - particularly her decision to place a woman in control, a theme which continues throughout her career. There is also the suggested violence which was inspired by the work of Caravaggio in paintings such as The Calling of St Matthew, Judith Beheading Holofernes and Bacchus. The background of the painting is particularly plain, other than for a small pillar which is cleverly added by the artist in order to append some information about the work in the form of inscribed lettering. This type of ordering and categorising her work was perhaps inspired by Michelangelo, such as with his work on the Pieta sculpture of 1498-1499.
Jael and Sisera can be found in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary. They possess one of the best selection of art in all of Eastern Europe and this insitution continues to attract visitors from right across Europe. Some of the highlights include a series of paintings from German artist, Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as several pieces by Pieter Bruegel, El Greco, Velázquez and Goya. There are around 3000 paintings in all which represent a huge period in European art, with almost all movements included from the early Renaissance all the way up to the French Impressionists. Those looking to discover a particular artwork should check ahead as the organiser's of its collection often rotate what is on display from one month to the next and also allow loans in and out from time to time.