Henri Regnault French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 804

Regnault initially represented this Italian model as an African woman, but later enlarged his canvas at the bottom and right and transformed it into a representation of the biblical temptress Salome. Hair ruffled, clothes in disarray, she has just danced for her stepfather Herod, governor of Judea. The platter and knife allude to her reward: the severed head of John the Baptist. Just months after this picture’s sensational debut at the Salon of 1870, the young Regnault was killed in the Franco-Prussian War. His posthumous fame was such that an outcry arose when the painting left France for America in 1912.

Salome, Henri Regnault (French, Paris 1843–1871 Buzenval), Oil on canvas

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