Salome

 

"And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb."

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Artists and intellectuals of the nineteenth century interpreted the Biblical story of Salome in different manners. While mid-century artists pointed to the innocence of Salome and the guilt of her mother Herodias, the fin de siècle became obsessed with the image of Salome as what Bram Dijkstra calls “the virgin whore.” The blame for John the Baptist’s decapitation shifted entirely to Salome and she became a symbol of feminine evil and bloodthirsty lust.

 

 

The earliest examples of artists' infatuation with the dramatic subject can be seen in Musee de Augustins in Toulouse (12th C.), France. 
Italians artists: Giotto's Feast of Herod (1320) 


Lorenzo Monaco's The Banquet of Herod (c.1400)


Masaccio's The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (1426).

 
Probably the best known images of Salome are Titian's Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, ca. 1530, and Caravaggio's Salome with the Head of the Baptist, and Beheading of the Baptist. 


The subject was explored by 19th C.. French Symbolist master, Gustave Moreau, made three paintings: Salome dancing before Herod, The Apparition, and Salome, all in the 1870's. 


Salome by Henri Regnault (1870) is in Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. Franz von Stuck painted his version of Salome in 1906
Gustav Klimt in 1907-09. 


Aubrey Beardsley made illustrations for Oscar Wilde's play Salome, which played in Paris in 1896. 
The German translation of the play was used by Richard Strauss for his opera Salome in 1905.

 

 

 

 

© 2019 Caroline Smith