The Head of John the Baptist brought to Herod

Herod's step-daughter, Salome, dances before him on the right, at a banquet. He promised to grant her any request and her mother Herodias told her to ask for the head of Saint John the Baptist on a dish; it is here delivered at the table, to the dismay of Herod and the guests. New Testament (Mark 6: 1-12).

The composition for this painting derives from Donatello's gilt bronze panel of the same subject on the font of the Baptistery, Siena (1423-7).

This painting is part of a predella of an altarpiece showing scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist; three other panels in the collection come from the same predella: 'The Birth of John the Baptist', 'Saint John the Baptist retiring to the Desert' and the 'The Baptism of Christ'. The panels have been associated with an altarpiece dated 1454 of the 'Virgin and Child with Saints' (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art) which includes Saint John the Baptist.

Key facts

Artist dates
active by 1417; died 1482
Full title
The Head of John the Baptist brought to Herod: Predella Panel
Date made
Medium and support
Egg tempera on wood
31 x 37 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought with a contribution from the Art Fund, 1944
Inventory number
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: Baptist Predella

Giovanni di Paolo
Giovanni di Paolo: 'The Baptism of Christ: Predella Panel'