Salome with the Head of St John the Baptist

Jacques Stella (Lyon 1596 - Paris 1657)
National Trust Inventory Number 1139900

Category Paintings
Date 1637 (signed and dated)
Materials Oil on slate
Measurements 546 x 457 mm (21 1/2 x 18 in)
Place of origin
Collection Ham House, Surrey (Accredited Museum)
On show at Ham House and Garden, Surrey, London and South East, National Trust

This painting, on precious slate, depicts a story from the book of Matthew in the Bible, when Salome, who has danced for King Herod, is offered anything she wishes. Her mother, Herodias, had asked her to request the head of John the Baptist, which she does. The King, bound by his promise, fulfilled her wish.

Stella – or Stellaert – was of Flemish stock, but born in Lyons. He went to Italy when young, at first, by 1616, to Florence – where he probably learnt the art of painting on hardstones – and then, around 1622/3, to Rome, where he stayed until 1634, and befriended Poussin, who strongly influenced his later style. Although this picture must have been painted after he had settled in Paris for the rest of his life, it is still strongly Italianate in character.

Summary description

Oil painting on slate, Salome with the Head of St John the Baptist by Jacques Stella (Lyon 1596 - Paris 1657), signed near bottom left on skirting: Stella f / 1637. In a marble and stone interior, Salome, dressed in blue with a red mantle, stands at a doorway and directs her maid, dressed in blue with a pink mantle, who mounts a step whilst carrying the Baptist’s head in a salver, a soldier in armour standing behind her. In the left foreground, a figure in shadow pulls back the curtain from the doorway and acts as a repoussoir.

Provenance

Possibly commissioned by William Murray (c. 1600 - 1655); in 1683 valuation and thence by descent until acquired in 1948 by HM Government when Sir Lyonel, 4th Bt (1854 – 1952) and Sir Cecil Tollemache, 5th Bt (1886 – 1969) presented Ham House to the National Trust, and entrusted to the care of the Victoria & Albert Museum, until 1990, when returned to the care of the National Trust, and to which ownership was transferred in 2002

Marks and inscriptions

Verso: In brown ink on old label: 1010; in blue ink on laid paper label: 3; on label: B/2696; in chalk: 61; 11; and 2

Makers and roles

Jacques Stella (Lyon 1596 - Paris 1657), artist

Related items

Place of origin
Materials Canvas (10021)
Oil paint (8279)
Category Paintings (12624)
Collection Ham House, Surrey (Accredited Museum) (5119)
Periods 17th century (32766)
Maker Jacques Stella (Lyon 1596 - Paris 1657) (3)
Subjects Salome  (15)
Object Type Oil painting (11759)

© National Trust Images © National Trust Collections Registered Charity No. 205846

Welcome to National Trust Collections. Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website. If you are planning a visit to see particular items in a National Trust Collection, please check information with the relevant Property first.