Herodias with the Head of Saint John the Baptist
Francesco del Cairo (1598–1674)
Oil on canvas
119.4 x 95.3 cm (47 x 37 1/2 inches)
Boston Museum of Fine Arts (accession number 26.772)
William Sturgis Bigelow Collection
According to the museum website, “Herodias was enraged with John the Baptist for preaching against her marriage to Herod, the brother of her first husband. . . . A text by Saint Jerome recounts that when Herodias received the severed head, she pierced the Baptist’s tongue with a needle. In this painting, Cairo made the macabre subject even more disturbing through dramatic lighting and the vivid realism with which he portrayed Herodias swooning in ecstasy as she mutilates the tongue that spoke against her..”
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