Artist: Franz Von Stuck
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 115.5 x 62.5 cm
Location: Stadische Galerie, Munich.
Salome was a Judaean princess (1st Century AD), grand-daughter of Herod the Great and daughter of Herodias by her first husband, Herod Philip, the brother of her second husband, Herod Antipas. She is identified (by the historian Josephus) as the unnamed girl recorded in Mark 6:21-29 who danced before Herod Antipas at the occasion of his birthday. According to Mark's gospel Herodias bore a grudge against John for stating that Herod's marriage to Herodias was unlawful, so she counseled Salome to demand the head of John the Baptist as recompense for her splendid dancing.
This painting highlights the two main aspects of the Salome legend: the girl’s unabashed seductiveness, and the brutality of the decapitation of John the Baptist. Salome dominates the foreground, her skin radiant against the darkened background. Our eye is drawn to her body, plays across her torso, and almost stumbles across the vaguely glowing head of the decapitated Baptist. This stark juxtaposition, sensually set against brutality, jars the viewer, no longer simply eyeing a lascivious young beauty, but rather witnessing the tableau of a tragic murder.
Franz Von Stuck (February 24, 1863 - August 30, 1928) was a German painter, sculptor, engraver and architect. He at first earned his living by illustrating various magazines, and in 1892 was one of the founders of the Munich Sezession. In 1895 he began teaching at the Munich Academy, where his pupils included Kandinsky, Klee and Albers, whose subsequent careers enhanced von Stuck's fame. His many nudes, with their torrid sensuality and a linear style combining decorative and erotic elements, are direct precursors of Jugendstil, the German Art Nouveau movement.