Paul Manship, Salome, 1915
From the Smithsonian American Art Museum:
In the New Testament, Salome is King Herod’s beautiful stepdaughter. Herod was so entranced with Salome that he offered her anything “unto the half of my kingdom” if she performed the Dance of the Seven Veils for his birthday (Mark 6:21). John the Baptist had angered Salome by rejecting her, and after she performed her seductive dance she asked Herod for John’s head on a silver platter. This biblical story of royal intrigue, sex, and murder has inspired many artists, including composer Richard Strauss and author Oscar Wilde, whose 1893 stage version was banned in England for more than thirty years. Here, Salome’s elaborate drapery and long limbs lead the viewer’s eye to the decapitated head, emphasizing her bittersweet victory over the prophet.