© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Seduced by the erotic dancing of his stepdaughter, Salome, the biblical ruler Herod Antipas promised to grant her a wish. Salome demanded the head of the prophet John the Baptist, who had resisted her advances. Here the severed head, with a cascade of blood, stares from mid-air at the bejeweled and scantily clad princess, who points to her trophy. By placing the figure of the enthroned king in the shadows at the left, opposite the radiant head of the ascetic prophet, Moreau depicts a psychologically and narratively ambiguous scene. Has the henchman standing to the right of the exotic stage just executed the order, or is the suspended head a symbol of the girl’s desire?

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Gustave Moreau, French (Paris 1826 - 1898 Paris)
The Apparition
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2120, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Lure of the East
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
55.9 x 46.7 cm (22 x 18 3/8 in.)
frame: 69.8 x 60.2 cm (27 1/2 x 23 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: -Gustave Moreau-
Gustave Moreau, sold; to Gustave Druflé, 1877. [Georges Bernheim]. [Galerie Brame et Lorenceau, Paris, no. 38 as "L'Apparition [Salome dansant"], sold; to Tauber[t], Paris, France, 1912, sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, 1930 [through Martin Birnbaum], bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Ary Renan, Gustave Moreau, Gazette des Beaux-Arts (Paris, France, 1900)

Sven Sandström, Le Monde Imaginaire d'Odilon Redon (London, England, 1955), repr. p. 50, fig. 39

John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art, Henry Holt and Co. (New York, NY, 1959), repr. fig. 473

H. Harvard Arnason, History of Modern Art: painting, sculpture, architecture, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1968), repr. p. 108

Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), no. 90, repr.

Jeffrey Meyers, "Huysmans and Gustave Moreau", Apollo (January 1974), vol. C, p. 44

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: with a catalogue of the finished paintings watercolors, and drawings, New York Graphic Society (Boston, MA, 1976), p. 128; repr. no. 160, p. 323

John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art [2nd ed.], Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY, 1981), repr. in b/w no. 436, p. 381

A.M. Hammacher, Phantoms of the Imagination: Fantasy in Art and Literature from Blake to Dali, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1981), repr. in b/w no. 71

Virginia M. Allen, The Femme Fatale: Erotic Icon, Whitston Publishing Co (Troy, NY, 1983), repr. b/w fig. 37, text p. 159

Michael P. Mezzatesta, Henri Matisse Sculptor/Painter: A Formal Analysis of Selected Works, Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX, 1984), repr. b/w fig. 1, p. 6

Andrée Hayum, The Isenheim Altarpiece: God's Medicine and the Painter's Vision, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1989), repr. in b/w fig. 78, p. 133

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 121; repr. as no. 320

H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson, History of Art [4th ed.], Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1991), repr. in color vol. II, fig. 953, p. 691

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Gustave Moreau, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1991), no. 187, p. 98

Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: Maître Sorcier, Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1997), pp. 57, 58, 62, 70

Harvard University Art Museums, Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: Monographie et nouveau catalogue de l'oeuvre achevé, ACR Édition (Paris, France, 1998), no. 187, p. 332, repr.

Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: between Epic and Dream, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL, 1999), p. 267

Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: Magic and Symbols, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1999), pp. 57, 58, 62, 70

Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), pp. 120-121, cat. #26, repr.; repr. p. 44 as fig. 17

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), no. 95, pp. 240-242, repr. in color

Christopher Riopelle, Harvard's Winthrop Collection: Nineteenth-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, exh. cat., National Gallery Company Limited (London, 2003), p. 22, cat. 9, ill.

Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 95, pp. 251-252, repr. in color

H. Harvard Arnason, History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Photography, Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2004), p. 56, repr. as fig. 3.12

Jodi Hauptman, "Beyond the Visible", exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, NY, 2005), p. 44, repr. in color as fig. 22

Shireen Malik, "'She freed and floated on the air:' Salome and Her Dance of the Seven Veils", ed. Jennifer Heath (Berkeley, 2008), p. 139, fig. 8.1

Helen M. Greenwald, "'Salome' in the fin-de-siècle Imagination", Boston Symphony Orchestra (Boston, 2014), pp. 19-25, repr. in color p. 19

Christie McDonald, "I am [not] a painting: how Chardin and Moreau dialogue in Proust's writing", ed. Christie McDonald and François Proulx, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2015), p. 50, fig. 4.5

Else Marie Bukdahl, The Recurrent Actuality of the Baroque, Controluce (Nardò, 2017), pp. 85-87, repr. p. 86 as fig. 20

Gustave Moreau (Tokyo, 2019), p. 26, repr.

Exhibition History

Moreau and Monticelli, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/13/1960 - 06/08/1960

Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/23/1969 - 03/31/1969

Pre-Raphaelite and Early French Symbolist Art in the Fogg Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/16/1973 - 02/25/1973

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

Masterpieces of European Art, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/22/1985 - 09/15/1985

Sublimations: Art and Sensuality in the 19th Century, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/13/1996 - 07/21/2002

Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 09/14/2002 - 12/08/2002

A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004

For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004

Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 2120 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu