Vincenzo Danti, Beheading of the Baptist

Danti, Vincenzo
Sala del Paradiso
Original location
Baptistery of Saint John, above the southern door

Group of statues in bronze showing the Beheading of John the Baptist realized by Vincenzo Danti between 1569 and 1571. The group is above the South doors of the Baptistery designed by Andrea Pisano. Vincenzo Danti was commissioned to complete Andrea Sansovino’s Baptism of Christ above the Paradise doors and entrusted with creating the group of statues above the southern entrance to the Baptistery. The work illustrates the final chapter in the story of John the Baptist’s earthly life, after he was imprisoned for openly denouncing king Herod’s adultery with his sister-in-law Herodias. Driven by a desire for revenge, Herodias instigates her daughter Salome to seduce the king into giving his consent for the Baptist to be beheaded. Danti shows the executioner poised to strike the fatal blow, while Salome stands to the left, half fearful and half cruelly expectant, waiting for the head to roll so that she can have it placed on a platter and taken to her mother Herodias. But the most striking feature of the work is the Baptist’s serene, totally fearless expression. He faces death because, as we are reminded in the Scriptures, he bore witness to the Truth. 

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Sala del Paradiso