Tiziano Vecellio

Salome with the head of John the Baptist

89,5 x 73 cm; oil on canvas (FC 517)

The colours and lyricism of this early masterpiece by Tiziano are still Giorgionesque. The scene is scattered with refined lyricism and probably represents Salome, given the presence of the handmaiden and the salver, where, according to the scriptures, John the Baptist’s head was laid. However, as with other works with this subject, it has at times been considered to be portraying Judith, whose moral connotations were very different to those of Herod’s stepdaughter. A 1592 entry in the documentation of Lucrezia d’Este’s collection might be a reference to the Doria Pamphilj Salome, which definitely later (1603) belonged to cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, and then his niece Olympia, princess of Rossano, whose second husband was Camillo Pamphilj. The past fame of the piece is demonstrated by the various copies that were made of it.

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