Over the years I have written four letters to The New York Times.Two of them were published which shows that my view points were taken into consideration.

Friday, March 31, 2006

WHO WAS THE WICKED ONE? Herodias or Salome?

If we talk about wicked women portrayed in art, painting , opera or movies, the Bible offers a bonanza of them. Who asked for the head of John the Baptist? Herodias or Salome? In the Hollywood version, Salome (played by Rita Hayworth who played two wicked women before: Gilda and Carmen ) didn’t ask for the head of John . It was her mother Herodias portrayed by Judith Anderson ( who played the wicked Mrs Danvers in Hitchcock’s “Rebecca”). We should not forget about another gore-obsessed lady, Judith , who was immortalized in canvas by the female artist Arthemisia Gentileschi who did many versions of this subject. What would Freud say? We also should not forget about the temptress Delilah ( played in the movies by Hedy Lamarr) who just decided that Samson would look better with a crew cut. Delilah was immortalized also by several artists. Leaving the Bible and moving to the Roman Empire, Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus is a tough act to follow, except for Messalina painted by Gustave Moreau, Aubrey Beardsley and Henrique Bernadelli. During the Renaissance Lucrecia Borgia was high on the wicked hit parade and inspired many painters. I don’t think that in modern times Evita Peron or the Duchess of Windsor was immortalized by a great artist. Sorry ladies, you don’t make the list.
Painting: Salome by Caravaggio


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