PRETI, Mattia
(b. 1613, Taverna Calabria, d. 1699, La Valletta)

Salome with the Head of St John the Baptist

Oil on canvas
Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota

The biblical source for the painting is Matthew 14:6-11 or Mark 6:21-8, where the daughter of Herodias danced for her stepfather, Herod, on his birthday. As a reward he promised her anything she wanted and, prompted by her mother, she chose the head of Saint John the Baptist, which she then carried to Herodias on a silver charger. The daughter subsequently became known in literature as Salome, and the theme was memorably treated in the nineteenth century by Richard Strauss and Oscar Wilde amongst others.

You can view other depictions of Salome with the Head of John the Baptist.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 15 minutes):
Richard Strauss: Salome, closing scene