The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist

William DobsonAbout 1640 - 1643

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Liverpool, United Kingdom

Dobson’s work is a copy of a painting by the Dutch artist Matthias Stomer, who worked in Rome under the influence of Caravaggio and his followers about 1630. Theatrical lighting and the play of silhouette and shadow dramatise the scene. On the right, the figure of Salome in profile is more subtly modelled, reflecting the lasting influence of Van Dyck, then working in England, on Dobson. Like Van Dyck, Dobson specialised in portraits of Charles I’s court and circle, and this early work represents a rare and unexplained venture into unfamiliar territory.


  • Title: The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist
  • Creator: William Dobson
  • Creator Lifespan: 1611/1646
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: London, England
  • Creator Birth Place: London, England
  • Date Created: About 1640 - 1643
  • tag / style: William Dobson; St John; religious; Baptist; head; executioner; light; dramatic; gory; shadow; theatrical; Matthias Stomer
  • Physical Dimensions: w302 x h1105 cm (Without frame)
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism at the Walker Art Gallery please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/essays/rococo.asp
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1955

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