In this series Index asks our colleagues, “What is your favorite work of art in our collections and why?” This is a tall order, given that there are about 250,000 works in the Harvard Art Museums’ collections. Click here to see other responses in this series.
Mick Cusimano, Mail/Shipping Clerk and Group Leader
I’ve always been enchanted by Gustave Moreau’s painting The Apparition (1876/1877). It takes a metaphysical approach to the beheading of John the Baptist. Moreau was inclined to illustrate dream-like or fantasy subjects, and this is evident here as Salome is taken aback by an apparition of St. John’s head. The costumes, architecture, and the leopard next to Salome are done in the Orientalist style, similar to that found in works by Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Chassériau. The painting is a vision, a hallucination, or perhaps a bad dream seen by Salome.