CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

Oil and tempera on oak, 61 x 50 cm
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon

The biblical source for the painting is Matthew 14:6-11 or Mark 6:21-28, 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.

Late medieval representations of this subject often isolated the protagonists and placed them in independent scenes. In this way Salome became the subject of closer, almost portrait-like half- or three-quarter-length pictures.

The panel in Lisbon is Cranach's earliest surviving, and his most impressive, interpretation of this scene.

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