1.11.2010

Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee

Ah, Salome.
Innocent as to the power of her beauty, and when finally that power is realized, the beauty is gone. Isn't that any woman's dream, to have the beauty of her youth with the wisdom of her years? Herod offers her anything--anything--and she turns to her mother for the answer; still a child,  knowing so little of the world. Perhaps hearing her voice articulate her mother's demand was the moment of the loss of innocence: Bring me the head of John the Baptist. The girl now knows her power. She holds the head upon the charger. And it brings a smile.

Or something like that. I have always loved Regnault's Salome at the Met. The bright glow, the dark eyes, the mischievous smile. The clumsiness of young power and naive satisfaction. I especially love the careless play of her feet in her slippers. This painting originally started out as a portrait called A Study of an African Woman, and then, The Favorite Slave, and finally decided on reckoning a Salome (JSTOR). Curious how one model's portrait could be fluid enough to represent three different women, the potential of so many in one, a prism of identity.

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