- Museum number
The Beheading of St John the Baptist; the saint kneels in the foreground in profile to right; with his executioner standing behind; Salome, Herodias and other ladies stand to the right; several men watch from a gallery above; with damages. c. 1508
- Production date
- 1505-1510 (c.)
Height: 401 millimetres (borderlines)
Width: 277 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Cf. G. Bartrum, German Renaissance Prints 1490-1550, BM exh. cat. 1995, no. 174.
D. Koepplin / T. Falk, Lucas Cranach: Gemälde - Zeichnungen - Graphik, 2 vols, exh. cat. Kunstmuseum Basel, 1974, no. 415.
Text from Bartrum 1995
Literature: Bartsch, 61; C.Dodgson, II, p. 287, 15; Hollstein, 86; Koepplin and Falk 415
The scene shown in this woodcut offers a most unusual interpretation of the story of St John the Baptist. Instead of the actual decapitation, which is the event most commonly depicted, the moment immediately preceding it is represented here. The design focuses on an intense gaze which John the Baptist, in the centre of the composition, fixes upon Salome, who stands slightly to one side with a group of women behind her. The figures are unusually large for Cranach's designs and they effectively create a much more dramatic subject than is commonly seen in his woodcuts. Certain aspects of the composition, including the decorative frieze along the parapet and also the psychological interpretation of the subject, reveal the influence of the Dutch engraver Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533). This woodcut stands out among Cranach's ceuvre and is difficult to fit in with the chronology of his prints; but it has been plausibly suggested that the absence of the Saxon coat of arms indicates that it was designed and cut while Cranach was in the Netherlands in 1508.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1995 Jun-Oct, BM, 'German Renaissance Prints, 1490-1550', no.174
- Acquisition date
- 1810 (before)
- Acquisition notes
- No indication of provenance on the verso
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number