Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640

The Feast of Herod

oil on canvas (208 × 264 cm) — c. 1635-38 Museum National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Peter Paul Rubens biography

This work is linked to Mark 6:21

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At first glance this seems to be a happy gathering. Closer inspection shows a horrible scene.

On his birthday Herod Antipas told his stepdaughter she could have anything she wanted. She asked for the head of John the Baptist, who happened to be downstairs in the dungeons for criticizing Herod's marriage to Herodias. The stepdaughter gets her way. Here she presents the head to Herod. Herodias takes a fork and prods John's tongue with it. Herod moves back in horror.

Rubens probably made this painting in commission of Gaspar de Roomer, a Flemish merchant based in Naples.

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