- Gallery Text
Seduced by the erotic dancing of his stepdaughter, Salome, the biblical ruler Herod promised to grant her a wish.
Prompted by her mother, Herodias, whose marriage to Herod had been denounced by John the Baptist, Salome requested
the saint’s head on a platter. In Moreau’s ornate vision, the dancer appears to have conjured the head of the ascetic prophet, whose
radiance overshadows her richly dressed form. The psychologically and narratively ambiguous scene is
enacted in front of the enthroned king and his wife as well as the executioner, his sword still wet with blood.
A version of this painting was described by French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans in his decadent novel of 1884,
À rebours (Against Nature). Huysmans, like many late 19th-century writers and artists, considered Salome the
ultimate example of a femme fatale: "[S]he awakened more energetically the lethargic senses of man, she
bewitched and tamed his will more confidently with her charm, that of a large venereal flower, grown in hotbeds
of sacrilege, raised in impious greenhouses."
- Identification and Creation
Level 2, Room 2120, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Lure of the East
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- Physical Descriptions
- Oil on canvas
- 55.9 x 46.7 cm (22 x 18 3/8 in.)
frame: 69.8 x 60.2 cm (27 1/2 x 23 11/16 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- Signed: l.l.: -Gustave Moreau-
- Gustave Moreau, sold; to Gustave Druflé, 1877. [Georges Bernheim]. [Galerie Brame et Lorenceau, Paris, no. 38 as "L'Apparition [Salome dansant"], sold; to Tauber[t], Paris, France, 1912, sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, 1930 [through Martin Birnbaum], bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
- THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT BY THE TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION TO THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS.
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- Publication History
Ary Renan, Gustave Moreau, Gazette des Beaux-Arts (Paris, France, 1900)
Sven Sandström, Le Monde Imaginaire d'Odilon Redon (London, England, 1955), repr. p. 50, fig. 39
John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art, Henry Holt and Co. (New York, NY, 1959), repr. fig. 473
H. Harvard Arnason, History of Modern Art: painting, sculpture, architecture, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1968), repr. p. 108
Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), no. 90, repr.
Jeffrey Meyers, "Huysmans and Gustave Moreau", Apollo (January 1974), vol. C, p. 44
Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: with a catalogue of the finished paintings watercolors, and drawings, New York Graphic Society (Boston, MA, 1976), p. 128; repr. no. 160, p. 323
John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art [2nd ed.], Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY, 1981), repr. in b/w no. 436, p. 381
A.M. Hammacher, Phantoms of the Imagination: Fantasy in Art and Literature from Blake to Dali, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1981), repr. in b/w no. 71
Virginia M. Allen, The Femme Fatale: Erotic Icon, Whitston Publishing Co (Troy, NY, 1983), repr. b/w fig. 37, text p. 159
Michael P. Mezzatesta, Henri Matisse Sculptor/Painter: A Formal Analysis of Selected Works, Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX, 1984), repr. b/w fig. 1, p. 6
Andrée Hayum, The Isenheim Altarpiece: God's Medicine and the Painter's Vision, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1989), repr. in b/w fig. 78, p. 133
Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 121; repr. as no. 320
H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson, History of Art [4th ed.], Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1991), repr. in color vol. II, fig. 953, p. 691
Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Gustave Moreau, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1991), no. 187, p. 98
Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: Maître Sorcier, Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1997), pp. 57, 58, 62, 70
Harvard University Art Museums, Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: Monographie et nouveau catalogue de l'oeuvre achevé, ACR Édition (Paris, France, 1998), no. 187, p. 332, repr.
Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: between Epic and Dream, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL, 1999), p. 267
Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: Magic and Symbols, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1999), pp. 57, 58, 62, 70
Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), pp. 120-121, cat. #26, repr.; repr. p. 44 as fig. 17
Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), no. 95, pp. 240-242, repr. in color
Christopher Riopelle, Harvard's Winthrop Collection: Nineteenth-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, exh. cat., National Gallery Company Limited (London, 2003), p. 22, cat. 9, ill.
Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 95, pp. 251-252, repr. in color
H. Harvard Arnason, History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Photography, Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2004), p. 56, repr. as fig. 3.12
Jodi Hauptman, "Beyond the Visible", exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, NY, 2005), p. 44, repr. in color as fig. 22
Shireen Malik, "'She freed and floated on the air:' Salome and Her Dance of the Seven Veils", ed. Jennifer Heath (Berkeley, 2008), p. 139, fig. 8.1
Helen M. Greenwald, "'Salome' in the fin-de-siècle Imagination", Boston Symphony Orchestra (Boston, 2014), pp. 19-25, repr. in color p. 19
Christie McDonald, "I am [not] a painting: how Chardin and Moreau dialogue in Proust's writing", ed. Christie McDonald and François Proulx, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2015), p. 50, fig. 4.5
Else Marie Bukdahl, The Recurrent Actuality of the Baroque, Controluce (Nardò, 2017), pp. 85-87, repr. p. 86 as fig. 20
Gustave Moreau (Tokyo, 2019), p. 26, repr.
- Exhibition History
Moreau and Monticelli, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/13/1960 - 06/08/1960
Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/23/1969 - 03/31/1969
Pre-Raphaelite and Early French Symbolist Art in the Fogg Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/16/1973 - 02/25/1973
Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
Masterpieces of European Art, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/22/1985 - 09/15/1985
Sublimations: Art and Sensuality in the 19th Century, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/13/1996 - 07/21/2002
Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 09/14/2002 - 12/08/2002
A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004
For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004
Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013
32Q: 2120 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
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