(b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)

Salome with the Head of the Baptist

c. 1609
Oil on canvas, 116 x 140 cm
Palacio Real, Madrid

This painting (which was earlier in the Casita del Principe, Escorial) was executed by Caravaggio to send to the Grand Master of Malta to appease him. It essentially follows the earlier version, today in London. The only slight change is in the pose of the executioner. And yet the two works are very obviously different. This later version rises out of an abyss of shadow. The executioner thoughtfully observes the result of his work, instead of lifting up the Baptist's head with certainty.

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