Puvis is best known for his large murals in French public buildings, flat and pale in colour and simplified in drawing to give something of the effect of fresco. This more personal picture was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1870. It shows Salome witnessing the execution of John the Baptist, charger in hand, ready to take his head to the offended Herodias (Mark vi: 21-28). The fig-tree behind may symbolise her lust. A larger and less hieratic version of the composition, probably earlier, is in the National Gallery.
Inscriptions / Translations: Signed and dated l.r.: Puvis de Chavannes/14 Xbre 1869
Notes: Exhibited: Salon, Paris, France, 1870, no. 2346; 'Exposition de Tableaux, Pastels, Dessins par M. Puvis de Chavannes', Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, France, 1887, no. 16; 'Exposition centenaire de l'art français', 1889, no. 558; 'M. Puvis de Chavannes: Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Pastels and Decorations', Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, USA, 1894, no. 8; 'Puvis de Chavannes', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1895, no. 2; 'Exhibition of Pictures by Painters of the French School', Guildhall Art Gallery, London, 1898, no. 151; 'Tableaux, Esquisses et Dessins de Puvis de Chavannes', Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1899, no. 12 [or 34]; 'The Franco-British Exhibition: Fine Arts Catalogue', London, 1908, no. 384; 'Ausstellung für Christliches Kunst', Dusseldorf, Germany, 1909; 'Armory Show', 69th Regiment Armory, New York, USA, 1913, no. 56; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA, 1915; 'Centennaire Salon', Paris, France, 1932; 'Puvis de Chavannes et la peinture lyonnaise du XIXe siècle', Musée des Beaux Arts, Lyons, France, 1937, no. 19; 'P.FrancescA', Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1940, no. 83 or 110; 'Exposicíon de Pintura Francesca', Montevideo, Uraguay, 1940, no. 10; 'Esposição de Pintura Francesca', Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1940, no. 81; 'Painting of France', Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, USA, 1941, no. 85; 'French Symbolist Painters', Arts Council, Hayward Gallery, London, UK, 06 June 1972 - 23 July 1972, no. 204; 'French Symbolist Painters', Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK, 09 August 1972 - 17 September 1972; 'Puvis de Chavannes', National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa, Canada, 04 March 1977 - 17 April 1977, no. 77; 'Pierre Puvis de Chavannes', Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 25 February 1994 - 29 May 1994, no. 57; 'Puvis de Chavannes: The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist', National Gallery, London, UK, 24 July 2002 - 27 October 2002; 'The Armory Show at 100', New York Historical Society, New York, USA, 18 October - 23 February 2014