Jean-Joseph-Benjamin Constant

Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist

c. 1895-1898
As a leading Orientalist painter in the nineteenth century Constant rendered exotic subject matter such as Salome, the Old Testament princess who enticed King Herod through her seductive dance into beheading St. John the Baptist and became a classic symbol of the femme fatale. The morbid combination of eroticism and death in this painting recalls the fin-de-siècle symbolism of Oscar Wilde’s contemporary play Salome. Constant’s work may be part of a series of biblical subjects all of the same size and painted in grisaille – a method of painting in grey monochrome. Two of these were published as photogravures in 1899 and 1901.
Title
Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist
Date
c. 1895-1898
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on wood
Dimensions
81 x 69.4 cm
Nationality
French
Credit line
Gift of the Robert Tanenbaum Family Trust, Toronto, 1999
Accession number
40160