Juan de Flandes ca. 1465 – 1519

Herodias' Revenge

oil on panel (75 × 50 cm) — 1496 Museum Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp

Juan de Flandes biography

This work is linked to Matthew 14:11

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At a party Herod promises the daughter of his new wife that she can have whatever she desires. Her mother Herodias tells her to demand the head of John the Baptist, the man who heavily criticized her marriage to Herod and who happened to be in the palace jail. Reluctantly Herod orders the beheading of John.

Here the daughter shows the head to Herod and Herodias. Herodias holds a knife, perhaps ready to cut John's tongue.

The tongue nor the name of the daughter are mentioned in the Bible. Other sources suggest the daughter's name was Salome.

This oak panel was part of an altarpiece devoted to the life of St. John. The remainders of the polyptych are scattered over several museums. Juan de Flandes painted it in commission for the Spanish queen Isabella. It was meant for the convent of Miraflores, near Burgos. In 1809 a French general in Napoleon's army took it to France. The Belgian collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh bought it in 1899. At the time it was attributed to Lucas van Leyden.

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