John William Waterhouse, 1849-1917
Oil on canvas
102 x 71 cm.
Courtesy Forbes Magazine Collection
Mariamne, much-loved wife of King Herod, has just been judged guilty of false charges brought against her, and Herod, pressured into having her executed rather than imprisoned, bows his head in grief. He cannot look at her, but she looks back at him, unresisting, and seeming to accept her wretched fate. "There is no more tragic episode in the story of Herod," writes Peter Richardson (217). Caught here at its most intense moment, it was a popular one for the Victorians. — Jacqueline Banerjee