Caravaggio: The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608)

(St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta)

The largest painting ever done by Caravaggio and the only one he signed. The subject of the painting is the execution of John the baptist. According to the gospels Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, had imprisoned John the Baptist. Herod was so pleased by the dancing of his daughter Salome on his birthday party that Salome could ask anything she wanted. The thing she wanted the most was the head of John the Baptist. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison - according to the tradition on 29 august. Caravaggio depicts the moment of the execution. The janitor gives instructions to the executioner while Salome stand ready with a golden plate. An old woman (perhaps Herodias). Two prisoners are looking at the right. Painting from 1608.

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