The recent gift of Ella Ferris Pell’s Salomé to the Timken collection has brought memories of a famous biblical femme fatale into our midst. Among the well-known females in Jewish and Christian literature, the enticing dancer Salomé ranks with other men-endangering women such as her mother Herodias, Judith and Jael, just to name a few. Their success in either fatally wounding a man’s head or having him beheaded has fascinated many artists. Yet viewers are often confused about which of these murderous females is a painting’s subject. In this docent-led talk we will compare their stories and survey the attributes one should look for in distinguishing who’s who in many of the great paintings of this ominously successful sisterhood.
Florence Gillman, Timken Docent and USD Professor of Biblical Studies