This compelling portrait of Salome was composed by the French painter Marie Felix Hippolyte-Lucas. While the celebrated artist’s oeuvre is filled with bright and cheerful portraits of aristocratic women surrounded by florals, here he takes a different approach. Hippolyte-Lucas’ Salome is simultaneously exotic and highly modern, rendered in a style that is both theatrical and bold. The monumental work’s rich color palette is filled with gem-inspired hues that lend drama to the scene, highlighting the blatant sexuality of this legendary seductress.
Though Salome is not named in the New Testament, she has appeared time and time again in art and literature over the centuries, as both an innocent and a seductress. Her mother, Herodias, resented John the Baptist, who denounced her marriage to King Herod as unlawful. At one evening meal, Salome danced for King Herod and his guests. He was so entranced by her, that he swore to give her whatever she asked of him. At her mother’s request, she demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Hippolyte-Lucas portrays her here in the role of the remorseless seductress, standing proudly next to the severed head of her mother’s enemy.
Born in 1854 in Rochefort-sur-Mer, Marie Felix Hippolyte-Lucas studied under the great French Academic painters Isidore Pils, Karl Lehmann and Évariste Luminais. He became primarily known as a figure and portrait painter, and his oeuvre is filled with bright portraits of aristocratic women. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1877 and continued to do so until the year before his death, early numerous award over the years. Also a celebrated muralist, he composed decorative paintings for the casino in Monte Carlo, the conference centre at the Musée Océanographique in Monaco, the Paris Stock Exchange and three ceilings in the Préfecture du Rhône.