On Display SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY
- Must See
Herodias’ daughter, Salome, had danced so beautifully that Herod had promised to grant her any wish. Prompted by Herodias, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist. This was Herodias’ revenge for the Baptist’s outspoken criticism of her marriage to Herod. Here Salome presents Saint John the Baptist’s head to King Herod. Herod shrinks back in horror. To his left, Herodias prods the Baptist’s tongue with a fork. Rubens conveys the dramatic moment through the actions and expressions of his larger than life size figures, his rich colours and bold contrasts of light and shadow. The picture was probably painted for Gaspar de Roomer, a Flemish merchant based in Naples, and inspired a number of Italian artists.