Off with his head! Is Salome the greatest femme fatale in Art History?

Salome is the quintessential femme fatale, or dangerous woman. The biblical figure and daughter of Herodias, seduced her step-father Herod with a salacious dance and in return he promised her the head of the prophet John the Baptist.

The depiction of Salome has always been a favourite subject throughout art history but during the 19th century a Salome ‘frenzy’ occurred, reaching its zenith between 1860 and 1910. During this time, over 1000 versions of the seductress were painted in Europe.

This talk will consider the reasons for this obsession. Did her popularity reflect the anxiety of men as women gradually moved towards emancipation? We will look at the most sensuous and scandalous depictions of this enchantress – this talk is not for the faint hearted!