(Herentals, 1542 – Antwerp1616)

Salome' dancing before Herod

Pen and brown ink and wash watercolour on paper 
mm 178 x 257

Madrid, private collection


The scene depicted here shows Herod, King of Judaea seated with his second wife Herodias who raises a rock-crystal cup in celebration of his birthday. Two guests are seated at right, the table laid whit a splendid peacock pie. The princess Salome, daughter of Herodias dances before them to musicians at right in Herods fortress-palace of Macheronta. Herod the story goes was intoxicated with her exquisite grace and promised to grant her whatever she would ask. The rest of this story, no doubt, is well known to all. Unlike his contemporary, Maarten de Vos, (1532-1603) who’s numerous drawings are well known to us and easily recognised we have only a handful of drawings from the Francken dynasty. For example, none are shown in the exhibition of Flemish Drawings now on show from Belgian private collections at the Royal Museum, Brussels. The present work is probably by Frans Francken I (1542-1616) as it can be related to the painting of Belshazzar’s Feast at Stockholm, (reproduced in color by Ursula Harting p. 74, Ft. 10). His son Frans Francken II (1581-1642) depicted seven works of this part of the Baptist’s life, two of the beheading, four of Salome presenting his head to Herod and one of the present subject.
Unfortunately no reproduction is known to us of this work but Harting refers to it in her monograph as being in the Baroda Picture Gallery at India. It is signed and dated 1609, see Harting 94*. 

Important notice:
Is, was a Jewish Stronghold east of the Dead Sea on the plateau of Moab now Khirbet el Mukawer.