Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 115.6 x 81.3 cm
Signed: Lower left: P. Marcel-Béronneau
Galerie Alain Blondel, Paris; Private Collection, New York
Galerie Alain Blondel, Marcel-Béronneau, 1869-1937, peintre symbolist, 1981, ills.
Here Marcel-Béronneau has combined the Biblical Salomé with the title of Charles Baudelaire’s poetry cycle, Les Fleurs du Mal (the Flowers of Evil), whose erotic and decadent themes, were immediately appealing to the Symbolist painters. The definitive edition was published in 1868, the year after his death, and provided inspiration for artists well into the 20th century – Beltran Masses’ illustrations for Les Fleurs du Mal were produced for an edition published in 1946. The Salomé of this painting is no elderly diva, however, but rather:
With waving opalescence in her gown,
Even when she walks along, you think she’s dancing.
Like those long snakes which charmers, while entrancing,
Wave with their wands, in cadence, up and down.
Like the sad sands of deserts and their skies,
By human sufferings untouched and free,
Or like the surfy curtains of the sea,
She flaunts a cold indifference. Her eyes
Are made of charming minerals well-burnished.
Her nature, both by sphynx and angel furnished,
Is old, intact, symbolic, and bizarre:
She seems, made all of gems, steel, light, and gold,
In barrenness, majestic, hard, and cold,
To blaze forever, like a useless star.
Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)
Marcel-Béronneau provided the illustrations for a 1933 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal, published by Javal et Bourdeaux (who also published Le Triomphe de Mort by Gabriel d’Annunzio, with illustrations by Beltran Masses.