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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Sheet: 26.4 x 15.7 cm (10 3/8 x 6 3/16 in.); Image: 19.8 x 11.2 cm (7 13/16 x 4 7/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2005.145.112.b
Column capitals in Herod’s palace have angels seated on upside-down lion heads.
John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, king of Judea, for criticizing the ruler’s marriage to his sister-in-law Herodius. Knowing of her husband’s respect for John, Herodius feared for her welfare. She ordered her daughter Salome to perform a dance for Herod who, enthralled by her beauty and skill, promised to give her anything she asked for. At the behest of her mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist, which is depicted here being presented on a platter. Herod, dressed in European clothing, sits on a Mughal-style throne as he witnesses the consequence of his imprudent vow.
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