Monday, December 14, 2015

Salomé (1870)

Henri Regnault: Salomé

Regnault initially represented this Italian model as an African woman, but later enlarged the canvas at the bottom and right and transformed it into a representation of Salomé. She is shown after having danced for her stepfather, Herod Antipas, governor of Judaea. The platter and knife allude to the reward she claimed for her performance: the severed head of John the Baptist.

Regnault was killed during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), just months after this picture was exhibited to great acclaim at the Salon of 1870. For years, the painting was considered a masterpiece of contemporary art. In 1912, when it was announced that it would be sold from a private collection, Baron Henri de Rothschild initiated a campaign to keep it in France. He was unsuccessful; Salomé was presented to the Metropolitan by one of the Museum's trustees in 1916. [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

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