A drawing of a single female dancer with her back turned, her arms raised above her head as she looks over her right shoulder at the viewer. She is nude except for a piece of cloth that flows around her lower body. In the background is a distant building seen through an archway.
John Singer Sargent was an admirer of Paul Jacques Aimé Baudry, a Parisian artist who painted a suite of colossal murals for the Paris Opéra. This drawing is Sargent’s sketch of a portion of Baudry’s ceiling depicting the dance of Salome. In it, Salome, nude but for a loose body veil, enthralls her stepfather, King Herod, winning his promise to grant her any wish. Prompted by her mother, Salome asks to receive the head of John the Baptist. Sargent seems to have had no interest in the murder plot, but was besotted with Baudry’s figure of Salome in mid dance, her arms arched overhead, backside and breasts visible, and legs caught mid-step.
-Paul Staiti, Professor of Fine Arts on the Alumnae Foundation, Mount Holyoke College (Sept. 2016)
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