Trained in the Milan of Leonardo da Vinci, Solario traveled in 1507 to France, where he worked for Cardinal d’Amboise. There he closely studied Netherlandish painting. In this remarkable picture Solario achieves a striking effect by contrasting Salome’s idealized beauty and jewels with the horrific head of Saint John, held aloft by the cropped arm of the executioner. The biblical story of Salome seductively dancing for King Herod and demanding as her reward the head of John the Baptist has long fascinated artists, and in the twentieth century notably inspired Gustav Klimt, Oscar Wilde, and Richard Strauss.
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Title:Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist
Artist:Andrea Solario (Italian, Milan ca. 1465–1524 Milan)
Medium:Oil on wood
Dimensions:22 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (57.2 x 47 cm)
Credit Line:The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Inscription: Signed (lower right): ·ANDREAS·DE· / ·SOLARIO· / ·F·
?Monsieur Nogaret (until 1782; his sale, J. B. P. Le Brun, Paris, March 18, 1782, no. 1); ?Josephine Bonaparte, Empress of France, Malmaison; [Férréol de Bonnemaison, Paris, 1806–8; sold to Oldenburg]; Peter Friedrich Ludwig von Oldenburg, Grand Duke of Oldenburg, Oldenburg (1808–d. 1829); Grand Dukes of Oldenburg, Oldenburg (1829–1900; cats., 1888; 1890, no. 47); Friedrich August von Oldenburg, Grand Duke of Oldenburg, Oldenburg (1900–at least 1912; cats., 1902, no. 47; 1906; 1912); [F. Steinmeyer, Lucerne, until 1923; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1923; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1923–d. 1931)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
Cremona. Museo Civico Ala Ponzone. "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," February 14–May 2, 2004, unnumbered cat. (p. 94).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy," May 27–August 15, 2004, no. 8.
LOAN OF THIS WORK IS RESTRICTED.
G. Parthey. Deutscher Bildersaal. Vol. 2, L–Z. Berlin, 1864, p. 563, no. 2 (under Solario), attributes it to Solario; as in the Oldenburg collection.
Alfred Woltmann and Karl Woermann. Geschichte der Malerei. Vol. 2, Die Malerei der Renaissance. Leipzig, 1882, p. 566.
Wilhelm Bode. Die grossherzogliche Gemälde-Galerie zu Oldenburg. Vienna, 1888, pp. 13–14, ill. (engraving), as "Herodias"; dates it between 1503 and 1507; states that it was acquired from Bonnemaison in Paris in 1808 and that it supposedly came from Malmaison; notes the popularity of the composition.
[F. K. von Alten]. Verzeichniss der Gemälde, Gypse und Bronzen in der grossherzoglichen Sammlung zu Oldenburg. Oldenburg, 1890, p. 22, no. 47, gives the date acquired by Bonnemaison as 1806.
Ivan Lermolieff [Giovanni Morelli]. Kunstkritische Studien über italienische Malerei. Vol. 2, Die Galerien zu München und Dresden. Leipzig, 1891, p. 117 n. 1, p. 360, no. 25 [English ed., "Italian Painters: Critical Studies of their Works," vol. 2, "The Galleries of Munich and Dresden," trans. Constance Jocelyn Ffoulkes, London, 1893, p. 90 n. 1, p. 279, no. 25], calls it a Flemish copy after Solario.
Herbert F. Cook inCatalogue of Pictures by Masters of the Milanese and Allied Schools of Lombardy. Exh. cat., Burlington Fine Arts Club. London, 1898, p. lxiii, calls it a Flemish copy after the painting at Sion House [see Notes].
Gustav Pauli. "Ausstellung von Gemälden der lombardischen Schule im Burlington Fine Arts Club." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 10 (1898–99), p. 148, fig. 8, as "Herodias"; attributes it to Solario, rejecting Morelli's [see Ref. 1891] and Cook's [see Ref. 1898] identification of the picture as a Flemish copy.
Kurzes Verzeichnis der Gemälde, Gips-Abgüsse und Bronze-Nachbildungen der grossherzoglichen Sammlung im Augusteum zu Oldenburg. Oldenburg, 1902, pp. IV, 7, no. 47.
F. Schmidt-Degener inDie grossherzogliche Gemaelde-Galerie im Augusteum zu Oldenburg. Oldenburg, 1906, p. 6, ill., compares it with a related work by Bernardino Luini (Musée du Louvre, Paris); notes the influence of Antonello da Messina and Leonardo da Vinci.
Bernhard Berenson. North Italian Painters of the Renaissance. New York, 1907, p. 294, tentatively attributes it to Solario.
Tancred Borenius, ed. A History of Painting in North Italy: Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Ferrara, Milan, Friuli, Brescia, from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century.. By J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe and G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1871]. London, 1912, vol. 2, p. 382 n. 3, mentions it among three versions of the composition by Solario: this one in the Augusteum at Oldenburg, and others in the Northumberland and Nemes collections.
Karl Schaefer. Führer durch die grossherzogliche Gemälde-Galerie im Augusteum zu Oldenburg. Oldenburg, 1912, p. 39, ill. opp. p. 38, dates it about 1510; notes the influence of Leonardo and of Flemish painting.
Tancred Borenius. "The Venetian School in the Grand-Ducal Collection, Oldenburg." Burlington Magazine 23 (April 1913), p. 25.
Kurt Badt. Andrea Solario: Sein Leben und seine Werke. Leipzig, 1914, pp. 205, 217, pl. IX, calls it a repetition of the Northumberland version, which he dates about 1506.
Wilhelm Suida. "Leonardo da Vinci und seine Schule in Mailand." Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 13 (1920), pp. 30–31, 35, dates it between 1507 and 1509.
Salomon Reinach. Répertoire de peintures du moyen age et de la renaissance (1280–1580). Vol. 5, Paris, 1922, p. 467, ill. (engraving), calls the Northumberland and Nemes versions replicas.
Wilhelm Suida. "Eine Ausstellung lombardischer Malerei der Renaissance." Belvedere 3 (1923), p. 201, calls the version in the Gualino collection, Turin, a studio repetition after the MMA work.
Lionello Venturi. La collezione Gualino. Turin, 1926, unpaginated, under pl. XXXI, ill., calls it a copy after the painting in the Gualino collection, which he attributes to Solario.
Wilhelm Suida. "Die Sammlung Gualino in Turin." Der Cicerone 19 (1927), p. 694, disagrees with Venturi.
Bernard Berenson in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], pp. 87–88, attributes both this picture and the Northumberland version to Solario and dates them toward the end of the artist's time in France (1507–9); believes that the composition is based on a work by Leonardo.
Wilhelm Suida. Leonardo und sein Kreis. Munich, 1929, pp. 200, 292, calls the Gualino picture a variant of this work.
André de Hevesy. "Les élèves de Léonard de Vinci: Andrea Solario." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 4 (1930), p. 181, calls it a Flemish copy and identifies the version in the Northumberland collection as the original by Solario.
Wilhelm Suida. "Eine Zeichnung des Andrea Solario in der Albertina." Belvedere 10 (1931), p. 34.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 542, lists it as by Solario.
Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 38, no. 64, believe that the various versions of the subject are based on a lost drawing or painting by Leonardo.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 465, erroneously lists it as in Brooklyn.
W[ilhelm]. Suida inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 31, Leipzig, 1937, p. 223.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 141, ill.
Nanette B. Rodney. "Salome." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 11 (March 1953), p. 197, ill. p. 196.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 91.
Luisa Cogliati Arano. Andrea Solario. 2nd ed. Milan, 1966, pp. 42, 74–75, 84, no. 30, fig. 84, attributes the MMA, Northumberland, and Gualino versions to Solario, dating the MMA and Northumberland pictures about 1510 and the Gualino work possibly earlier; suggests the influence of Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 411; vol. 3, pl. 1433.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 190, 417, 607.
Mercedes Precerutti-Garberi inCapolavori d'arte lombarda: i leonardeschi ai raggi "x". Exh. cat., Castello Sforzesco. Milan, 1972, p. 120.
Claus Virch. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. August 7, 1973, calls it "the original and certainly the finest of several versions, some of which may be copies".
Old Master Paintings: Recent Acquisitions. Exh. cat., Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. London, 1978, p. 26, under no. 34, erroneously mentions it as still in the Oldenburg collection.
Clovis Whitfield. Discoveries from the Cinquecento. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. [New York], 1982, p. 62, under no. 30.
Sylvie Béguin inAndrea Solario en France. Paris, 1985, pp. 16, 46.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School. New York, 1986, pp. 60–61, pl. 30, state that the Northumberland version may also be autograph, but that the quality of the MMA work is superior and that it is certainly the prototype; date it about 1510–14, after Solario's return from France to Milan; note the presence of pentimenti.
David Alan Brown. Andrea Solario. Milan, 1987, pp. 13, 15, 19, 165, 167, 171, 184, 191, 198–99 nn. 76, 79, 82, p. 203 n. 164, pp. 205, 207–8, 217, 279, no. 40, figs. 124 (color), 125–26 (details), dates it before Solario's departure for France in 1507; calls it the primary version of the composition, and considers the Northumberland and Nemes paintings to be copies; believes that it was probably the picture included in the Nogaret sale in 1782.
Kerstin Merkel. Salome: Ikonographie im Wandel. PhD diss., Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz. Frankfurt, 1990, p. 341, no. 381, fig. 247, dates it to the first quarter of the sixteenth century.
Paul Joannides. "Titian's 'Judith' and its Context: The Iconography of Decapitation." Apollo 135 (March 1992), p. 167, fig. 9, dates it about 1507.
Maria Teresa Binaghi Olivari. "Partita doppia milanese per Tiziano." Venezia arti 8 (1994), p. 37, agrees with Brown's [see Ref. 1987] dating and attribution of the versions.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 102, ill.
David Alan Brown inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 29, New York, 1996, p. 25.
Jaynie Anderson. Giorgione: The Painter of "Poetic Brevity". Paris, 1997, p. 207 [French ed., 1996].
Laura Pagnotta. Bartolomeo Veneto: l'opera completa. Florence, 1997, p. 103, dates it to the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century.
Paola Venturelli. "I gioielli di Salomè." Achademia Leonardi Vinci 10 (1997), pp. 202, 204 n. 21, fig. 3 (color), dates it 1505–6.
David Alan Brown inThe Legacy of Leonardo: Painters in Lombardy 1490–1530. Milan, 1998, pp. 243–44, fig. 123.
Eleonora Bairati. Salomè: immagini di un mito. Nuoro, 1998, p. 120, dates it about 1506.
Francesco Frangi inPittura a Milano: rinascimento e manierismo. Ed. Mina Gregori. Milan, 1998, pp. 224–25, colorpl. 51.
Victoria S. Reed. "Rogier van der Weyden's 'Saint John Triptych' for Miraflores and a Reconsideration of Salome." Oud Holland 115, no. 1 (2001–2002), p. 14 n. 47, dates it about 1507.
Victoria S. Reed. "Piety and Virtue: Images of Salome with the Head of John the Baptist in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance." PhD diss., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., 2002, pp. 160–61, 163, 579, no. 466, fig. 103.
Andrea Bayer. "North of the Apennines: Sixteenth-Century Italian Painting in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Spring 2003), pp. 14–16, fig. 8 (color), ill. p. 6 (color detail), dates it probably about 1506–7.
Andrea Bayer inPainters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2004, p. 81, no. 8, ill. (color) [Italian ed., "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," (Milan), pp. 94–95, ill. (color, overall and detail)].
Old Master & British Paintings: Day Sale. Christie's, London. July 9, 2014, p. 54, under no 134.
Andrea Bayer. "Collecting North Italian Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America. Ed. Inge Reist. University Park, Pa., 2015, pp. 94–95, 124 n. 34.
Sebastian Schütze. Caravaggio: The Complete Works. Cologne, 2015, p. 26, ill. (color, cropped).
Malve Anna Falk inDie Gemäldegalerie Oldenburg: Eine europäische Altmeistersammlung. Ed. Sebastian Dohe et al. Oldenburg, 2017, pp. 54, 65 n. 57, p. 118, no. 47, ill. pp. 67, 119 (color, overall and detail), and on cover.
Sebastian Dohe inDie Gemäldegalerie Oldenburg: Eine europäische Altmeistersammlung. Ed. Sebastian Dohe et al. Oldenburg, 2017, pp. 21, 47 n. 336.
Victoria S. Reed. "Decapitation, Devotion, and Desire in Titian's 'Salome'." Artibus et Historiae no. 79 (2019), p. 95, fig. 4 (color).
A second signed version of the composition was formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland, Sion House (private collection, Switzerland, in 1987). Another version was formerly in the Von Nemes collection, Budapest, and was most recently sold at Sotheby's, New York, January 15, 1993, no. 153, as Studio of Andrea Solario. A variant was formerly in the Gualino collection, Turin, and is now in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin.
The principal version of a related composition by Solario is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
There are versions of a similar composition by Bernardino Luini in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Borromeo collection, Isola Bella.
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