Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

Year c. 1607
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 91.5 cm × 106.7 cm (36.0 in × 42.0 in)
Location National Gallery, London

The painting was discovered in a private collection in 1959. The early Caravaggio biographer Giovanni Bellori, writing in 1672, mentions a Salome with the Head of John the Baptist sent by the artist to the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta in the hope of regaining favour after having been expelled from the Order in 1608. It seems likely, however, that Bellori was referring to a different painting of the same subject (see Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (Madrid)). The handling and the raking light link this painting to works done in Naples during the artist's brief stay in the city during 1606–1607, an impression confirmed by the blances between Salome and the Virgin in the Madonna of the Rosary, and between the executioner holding the head of the Baptist and one of the two torturers in Christ at the Column and The Flagellation of Christ. From November to February 2012–2013 this painting was part of the exhibition "Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy" at the LACMA.