Salome with the head of John the Baptist

89.5 x 73 cm; oil on canvas (FC 517)

This early masterpiece shows that Titian’s personal style had already evolved , with a “sense of physical proximity and involvement of the viewer” [David Jaffé (ed), Titian, The National Gallery, London 2003]. The scene is scattered with refined lyricism and represents Salome, given the presence of the maidservant and the silver platter on which John the Baptist’s head is laid. Some scholars suggest the head of the Baptist might be a self-portrait of the artist. It is usually dated about 1515, and a 1592 record of Lucrezia d’Este’s collection may refer to the Doria Pamphilj Salome, which definitely later (1603) belonged to cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, and then to his niece Olimpia, Princess of Rossano, whose second husband was Camillo Pamphilj. The picture’s early fame is demonstrated by the various copies that were made of it.