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Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist

1515–25

Bernardino Luini, Italian (Milanese), active in 1512, died in 1532


Dimensions

62.23 x 51.43 cm (24 1/2 x 20 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

21.2287

Medium or Technique

Oil on panel

On View

Italian Renaissance Gallery E (Gallery 219)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Paintings

The Bible's gospel of Mark recounts how King Herod, captivated by the dancing of his stepdaughter, Salome, offered her any reward. At her mother's urging, Salome requested the head of John the Baptist, who had criticized her mother's marriage. Like other Renaissance paintings of this subject, the beautiful faces of Salome and John belie the brutal violence of decapitation. This painting, its contours blurred by delicate shadows, is one of the works by Luini most indebted to Leonardo da Vinci.

Provenance

Duke of Ascoli, Naples [see note 1]. With Elia Volpi (b. 1858 - d. 1938), Florence [see note 2]. 1921, Duveen Brothers, New York; 1921, sold by Duveen to Mrs. Walter Scott Fitz (Henrietta Goddard Wigglesworth) (b. 1847 - d. 1927), Boston; gift of Mrs. Walter Scott Fitz to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 20, 1921) NOTES: [1] Luca Beltrami, "Luini, 1512-1532" (Milan, 1911), p. 566, records it as being in the Duke of Ascoli collection. [2] Marilena Tamassia, "Collezioni d'arte tra Ottocento e Novecento: Jacquier fotografi a Firenze 1870-1935" (Naples, 1995), p. 224, no. 51517.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. W. Scott Fitz