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Oil Painting - The Execution of St John the Baptist

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1963P9
Collection:Fine Art Paintings and Sculpture
Date:1540 - 1563

Maker Information

Artist:Andrea Schiavone - View biography for Andrea Schiavone


John the Baptist denounced King Herod for his unlawful marriage to Herodias, his brother's widow, and was thrown into prison. During a feast at the palace, Herod's step-daughter Salome, danced so beautifully that Herod offered her any gift she asked. Her mother told her to demand the head of John. Rather than break his word, Herod ordered the execution and his head was presented to Salome on a dish. Here the executioner offers the head to Salome who averts her gaze while, in the distance, the feast continues. For Christians, John is seen as the last prophet of the Old Testament and the forerunner of Christ. Images of his severed head were once though to have the ability to cure sickness. It was a popular subject in Renaissance art, allowing painters to exploit the contrast between murderous violence and female beauty in the figure of Salome.

Purchase 1963.

Further Information

Production Period:16th century
School/Style:Old Master
Medium:Oil on canvas.
Material(s):Oil paint


Height:1169 mm
Width:1612 mm