|Mary Salome is surrounded by her father, whose unusual hat
identified Jews in medieval Europe; her husband; and her children saints James and John
the Evangelist, the latter occupied with a book to remind viewers of his role as Gospel
writer and the author of Revelations. The eagle was his traditional symbol.
(Information about this artwork and the artist is available below)
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"St. Mary Salome
is one of the prominent female figures in the Gospels and is mentioned by St. Matthew as
the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John. The name Salome is derived from a
Hebrew word meaning peace and prosperity and corresponds to the Greek name Irene. Many
biblical scholars think that Salome is a cousin of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and is
thought to have accompanied Jesus and the apostles during much of their travels.
St. Salome is mentioned throughout the gospels in several
different places. Both the gospels of Matthew and John place Salome at the Crucifixion,
and the gospel of Mark mentions Salome as one of the women who came to anoint the body of
Jesus on the morning of the Resurrection. Salome also was an important figure in the group
that followed Jesus and the Apostles while Jesus labored on earth. One story in the
gospels which shows Jesus and Salome talking is the one where she asks Jesus what places
her sons will have in His Kingdom. Jesus responds that it is the Father who assigns places
in the Kingdom and that James and John will have to follow His own example of humility and
sacrifice to earn places there.
The city of Veroli, Italy venerates Salome as one of its
principle patrons. There are some stories that give the account of Salome's life after the
Resurrection and they say that she came to the city of Veroli, Italy and spent the rest of
her life there spreading the Good News. "
The Artwork on which the background is
based is from a painting by:
detail: Saint Mary Salome and Her Family, c. 1520/1528
oil on panel, 125 x 65.7 cm (49 1/4 x 25 7/8 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
"This work and its companion, Saint
Mary Cleophas and Her Family, also in the Gallery's collection, portray Jesus' extended
This domestic and tranquil subject appealed to popular sentiment and to worshipers'
personal identification with Christ and the saints. The panels probably flanked a sculpted
centerpiece of painted and gilded figures, creating a crowded tableau that would have
resembled real-life scenes from medieval passion plays, in which townspeople acted out
events from the life of Christ.
In these paintings, with their tooled gold backgrounds and shallow space, Strigel returned
to a Gothic sentiment that had largely been abandoned after the Reformation swept through
Germany in the 1520s."