- Museum number
The Dance of Salome; a curved classical interior, Salome at centre dancing before Herod who is seated dining, musicians behind and groups of attendants surrounding
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, heightened with white (partly oxidised), over black chalk, on light brown prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 270 millimetres
Width: 435 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Study for Ligorio's fresco in the Oratorio di S Giovanni Decollato, Rome.
Lit: J.A. Gere and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Rome', London, 1983, no. 193
Gere & Pouncey 1983
A study for Ligorio's fresco in the Oratorio di S. Giovanni Decollato, Rome (Venturi, ix5, fig. 456). In the painting the architectural background and the group of Herod with his entourage and Salome are substantially as in the drawing, but the stage on which the scene is enacted is lower and is decorated along the front with a grisaille frieze; in front of it, in the immediate foreground, are the heads and shoulders of three men in sixteenth-century dress, evidently portraits of members of the Confraternity of S. Giovanni Decollato. The woman ascending the steps in the l. foreground is enlarged in scale and has been transformed into a Caryatid-cum-canephoros, of flesh and blood, bearing a basket of fruit on her head and apparently supporting the cornice of the background architecture to the l. of the exedra. The steps on the r. are fewer and less conspicuous and are partly obscured by a woman sitting in profile to l. in the extreme r. foreground, accompanied by three children.
The fresco is not dated (that is to say, no date is now visible in the cartouche above, similar to those, mostly inscribed with dates, above all but the first of the cycle of eight scenes from the life of the Baptist), but its position in the cycle, between Battista Franco's 'Arrest of the Baptist', datable in the period 1541/2-1545/6 (see Pp,2.121), and the 'Decollation of the Baptist', dated 1553, suggests a dating within those limits. Dr Keller dates it 1544, on the strength of a record of payment discovered by him in the Confraternity archives ('Creditori e Debitori 1539-44', c. 144 v.) dated 4 December 1544 "per havere fatto levare il ponte del dipintore". This must, by elimination, refer either to the 'Dance of Salome' or to the 'Arrest of the Baptist', but in our opinion the question is still to some extent an open one, since we do not find entirely convincing the arguments put forward by W.R. Rearick in favour of dating the 'Arrest of the Baptist' not later than 1541/2 (see Pp,2.121).
Literature: Gere, MD, pp. 239f.; R. Keller, Das Oratorium von San Giovanni Decollato in Rom, Institut Suisse de Rome, 1976, pp. 106f.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number