GIOTTO di Bondone
(b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)

Scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist: 3. Feast of Herod

c. 1315
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Peruzzi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

The banquet takes place in a splendid open hall, decorated with small marble figures. John the Baptist is beheaded at the request of the dancing Salome. In contrast to the festiveness of the scene, Giotto increases the brutality of the events through the gestures, culminating in the encounter between Herod and the henchman, who hands him the severed head as if it were a dish of fare. Even although the surface of the faces is badly damaged, this moment of horror and outrage is still clear: plates, hands, dishes and head form an alarmingly brutal unity, over which soldier and king look at one another.