Latin America, Mexico, ca. 18th century CE. A hand-carved/painted wood severed head of Saint John the Baptist tilted and bleeding after his execution. The visage comprised of inlaid glass staring eyes, parted downturned mouth, sallow skin, and realistic bone structure is uncannily naturalistic and displays the high key emotional and dramatic influences of Spanish Art. Silver halo. Mounted on graduated square pedestal. Size: head measures 4.75" W x 5.5" H (12.1 cm x 14 cm); entire piece measures 8.5" W x 10.125" H (21.6 cm x 25.7 cm)
Attached to Saint John the Baptist's head is a beautifully worked silver halo inscribed with "I.H.S." displaying attractive chaise and repousse technique. I.H.S. comes from the Latinized version of the Greek Chi Rho symbol, meaning in the Holy Name of Jesus. This halo may also be a reference to the platter, as when Salome asked her mother what she should request, she was instructed to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. According to the Bible, King Herod's daughter Salome requested Saint John the Baptist's beheading. The heinous act was prompted by her mother, Herodias, who sought revenge, because the prophet had condemned her incestuous marriage to Herod. A superb rendering displaying strong technique, fine painting, and an emotive quality embraced by Spanish Colonial artists.
Provenance: From the Lilly and Francis Robiscek Collection of Religious Art, Charlotte, NC
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