About This Artwork

Giovanni di Paolo
Italian, c. 1399–1482

Salome Asking Herod for the Head of Saint John the Baptist, 1455/60

Tempera on panel
69.1 x 36 cm; (27 3/16 x 14 3/16 in.)
Painted surface: 66.7 x 33.7 cm (26 5/16 x 13 1/4 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1013

Giovanni di Paolo worked within the conservative artistic tradition of Siena, creating rich patterns and an intensely devotional mood in his paintings. Among his finest narrative works are these six panels, part of a series of twelve depicting the life of Saint John the Baptist, the kinsman and prophet of Christ. Other panels from the series are scattered in European and American collections; they may originally have formed the doors of a shrine housing a relic of the saint. In the first of the Art Institute's panels, the young Baptist enters the wilderness to live as a hermit; later he foretells Christ's role as redeemer, is imprisoned, and is finally martyred at the request of Salome, the step-daughter of King Herod.

— Permanent collection label

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