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Salome with the head of John the Baptist, Titian, analysis



Salome with the head of John the Baptist - Titian. Canvas, oil. 90 x 72 cm


The famous Titian’s painting entitled “Salome with the Head of John the Baptist” is one of the greatest works of the High Renaissance epoch.

The painting is believed to have been created back in 1515, during the early creative period of the artist. This was the time when Titian was developing his own style, searching for uniqueness, and creating plenty of female images.

The tragic biblical plot which underlies this work refers directly to the ancient Christian pastime when people accepted suffering for the true faith. And John the Baptist fell victim to the whim of King Herod's stepdaughter Salome as she ordered his severed head to be delivered to her for the promise.

The composition of this painting attracts the viewers’ attention to the image of Salome. She turns away from the severed human head in front of her; however, she stares at her enemy with a gaze full of hatred and curiosity. The loyal maid is listening to her mistress with clear obedience.

John the Baptist does not look suffering on this painting. Instead, the great saint seems to be peaceful and calm, just the way a true Christian shall be, happy to meet the Lord soon. Some art experts revealed a portrait resemblance of his face with the one of Titian himself.

The great master’s inimitable color play allows the viewers to feel the subtle mind states of the heroes of this dramatic plot. Salome’s bright scarlet robe, just like blood, is there to emphasize the cruelty of the massacre that the saint was subjected to, while the dark, nearly black background of the picture behind her image indicates the foulness of her soul. As a contrast to that, the author depicted the head of St. John the Baptist applying a light warm color range.

This is how the master makes one believe that despite the ruined flesh, John the Baptist remains alive, since the spirit of every righteous and genuinely Cristian person is immortal.
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