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The Beheading of St John the Baptist 1275 Stained and painted glass Approx one foot squared Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Stained glass windows in churches were created to carry elaborate iconographical messages to the faithful 1 who were mostly illiterate at the time of the creation of this work The Beheading of St John the Baptist St John the Baptist was imprisoned by King Herod for speaking against the marriage of Herod and his brothers wife Herodias Later Herods stepdaughter Salome requested St Johns head as a reward for performing the Dance of the Seven Veils She wanted revenge on St John because he had at one point scorned her 2 In the work we see the large executioner outside the tower where St John is imprisoned about to cruelly cut off St Johns symbolically haloed holy head The executioners face shows determination under his harsh eyebrows his eyes are pointed down at St John the executioner is tight-lipped he is beardless symbolizing youth and he is barefoot St Johns bearded face has softer features He is being yanked by the hair and he looks sad scared and confused He does not know why he is being killed His arms are out in front of him his hands are clasped in prayer and his eyes are pointed up towards God almost pleadingly Another interpretation for St Johns reaction is that perhaps his reaction is one of calm resignation Possibly St John is looking foreward to being reunited with Jesus Christ That this scene is represented as opposed to a scene where St John is doing something more active such as preaching or teaching shows that the artist was probably instructed to create something dramatic which would move the observer
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