Saint Jokanaan, the Gospel According to Salome
June 24th is the feast day of the blessed Baptist John.
My previous post concerning Caravaggio and Catamites featured many lovely depictions of the martyr, I would like to continue , for like Salome many artists have found the fellow captivating.
Of course I am unable to think of Jokanaan without thinking of Oscar, without thinking of his Salome, so why try?
“Jokanaan, I am amorous of thy body!”
City of Manchester art Gallery, Manchester
“How wasted he is!”
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
“He is like a thin ivory statue. He is like an image of silver. I am sure he is chaste as the moon is. He is like a moonbeam, like a shaft of silver. his flesh must be cool like ivory. I would look closer at him.”
Accademia Lingustica de Belle Arti, Genoa
Jokanaan: “Daughter of sodom, come not near me! But cover thy face with a veil, and scatter ashes upon thine head, and get thee to the desert and seek out the Son of Man.”
Salomé: “Who is he, the Son of Man?Is he as beautiful as thou art, Jokanaan?”
“Thy body is white like the lilies of a field that the mower hath never mowed.”
Palazzo Pitti, Florence
‘There is nothing in the world so white as thy body. let me touch thy body.”
Santa Maria in Via, Camerino
“It is thy mouth that I desire, Jokanaan”
The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
“I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan, I will kiss thy mouth.”
Andrea Solari (1460-1524)
“I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan.”
Although we know of Salome’s lust, Saint Jerome (via Omer Englebert The Lives of the Saints) informs us “…that that for a long while Herodias savagely attacked the head of the prophet , repeatedly stabbing his tongue with a dagger.”
Salome’s desire seems decent when compared to mater.
I will close with an image familiar to many of my readers.
I was saddened to discover recently that it is not our dear Oscar in drag playing his most supreme vixen , but is instead an actress, Alice Guszalewice. I will need to look into Alice’s story, but she does look a lot like dear Oscar, so for one Last Dance I will believe it is indeed our hero.
I can’t resist this clip from Salome\’s Last Dance, so why try.
In no way was I attempting to be disrespectful or overly ironic concerning the Baptist. I feel that much of what Wilde expressed was deeply reverent, complicated by human frailty, but still quite reverent.
Wishing a happy feast day of Saint Jean-Baptiste, particularly to the Québécois.