Giraudon/Art Resource, New York, NY

A Costly Dance. In one of his greatest works, “Salome Dancing (shown here), the French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826–1898) portrayed the enticing dance of Herod Antipas’ stepdaughter. Painted in 1876, the work features decorative line designs imposed on the background, a technique that Moreau used in other works too. The white lines were achieved by scratching the paint away to expose the canvas below.

Antipas was so pleased by her performance that he promised to give her whatever she wished. “Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter’ ” (Matthew 14:8). Bound by his oath, the king had John’s head “brought on a platter and given to the girl” (Matthew 14:11). The Italian painter Andrea Solario (c. 1460–1524), using oil on wood, depicted the grisly conclusion in “Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist” (see next image).