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Giampietrino, Salome

Key facts
Full title Salome
Artist Giampietrino
Artist dates active about 1500 - 1550
Date made probably about 1510-30
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 68.6 × 57.2 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3930
Location Gallery B
Collection Main Collection

The subject is taken from the New Testament (Mark 6: 22–9) and shows Salome being presented with the head of Christ’s cousin, Saint John the Baptist. The swarthy executioner dangles the severed head by its hair above a dish; Salome turns away as if she cannot bear to look at the prize King Herod granted her for her dancing. She seems to gaze toward someone outside the picture – perhaps her mother, who ordered her to ask Herod for the Baptist’s head.

The figure of Salome is based on a now lost composition of Leda and the Swan by Leonardo, and the strong contrast of light and shade is also influenced by him. The pinkish red of Salome’s robe and her flesh tones have faded, affecting the contrast between the complexions of the executioner, Salome and the severed head. The brown stripes of the tablecloth were once a rich green.

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