The New Testament records how Saint John the Baptist was beheaded at Herodias' request, and his head presented to her daughter Salome on a charger. Salome then brought the head to her mother. (Matthew 14: 1-11). This painting is one of the key works of Sebastiano's early years in Venice, painted shortly before he left for Rome. The influence of Titian and the young Giorgione can be observed.