I first came across this drawing of Salome in 2009 when I was designing my first website. I was completed mesmerised by it. Unfortunately the artist is unknown.
When I saw it, it came into my mind:
Salome > The Dance of The Seven Veils > Belly Dance.
Intrigued, I decided to make some research about Salome.
Salome (/səˈloʊmiː/; Greek: Σαλώμη, translit. Salōmē; Hebrew: שלומית, translit. Shlomiẗ, deriving from Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם, translit. shalom, lit. 'peace'; c. AD 14. Salome is usually identified with the daughter of Herodias who, according to the New Testament (Mark 6:21–29 and Matthew 14:3–11) danced before Herod and her mother Herodias at the occasion of his birthday, and in doing so gave her mother the opportunity to obtain the head of John the Baptist. Herodias bore a grudge against John for stating that Herod's marriage to her was unlawful. She encouraged her daughter to demand that John be executed. Salome is not named in the gospels, she is sometimes referred to as "the daughter of Herodias". Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, notably in regard to the dance mentioned in the New Testament, which is thought to have had an erotic element to it.
Oscar Wilde’s Play
Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890's. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.
In October 1891 Wilde not content with being better known than ever in London, went to Paris. Wilde's two plays during the 1880s, Vera; or, The Nihilists and The Duchess of Padua, had not met with much success. He had continued his interest in the theatre and now, after finding his voice in prose, his thoughts turned again to the dramatic form as the biblical iconography of Salome filled his mind. One evening, after discussing depictions of Salome throughout history, he returned to his hotel and noticed a blank copybook lying on the desk, and it occurred to him to write in it what he had been saying. The result was a new play, Salomé, written rapidly and in French. Three years later an English translation was published.
English Version: www.gutenberg.org/files/42704/42704-h/42704-h.htm
French Version: www.gutenberg.org/files/1339/1339-h/1339-h.htm
Rehearsals for the play's debut on the London stage, for inclusion in Sarah Bernhardt's London season, began in 1892, but were halted when the Lord Chamberlain's licensor of plays banned Salome on the basis that it was illegal to depict Biblical characters on the stage.
The play was first published in French in February 1893 and an English translation, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley and eventually premiered on 11 February 1896 in Paris, at the Comédie-Parisienne, while Wilde was in prison in London – at the Théâtre de l'Œuvre in some accounts - in a staging by Lugné-Poe's theatre group, the Théâtre de l'Œuvre.
Dance of the Seven Veils
The name "Dance of the Seven Veils" originates with the 1893 English translation of Oscar Wilde's 1891 French play Salomé in the stage direction "[Salome dances the dance of the seven veils.]". Wilde's choice of title for the dance has been linked to the popularity of orientalist "veil dances" in the period and to the emergence of striptease acts.
The idea that Salome's dance involves "seven veils" originates with Wilde's 1891 play Salomé. Wilde was influenced by earlier French writers who had transformed the image of Salome into an incarnation of female lust. Rachel Shteir writes that,
“To the French, Salome was not a woman at all, but a brute, insensible force: Huysmans refers to her as "the symbolic incarnation of undying Lust … the monstrous Beast, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible"; and Mallarmé describes her as being inscrutable: "the veil always remains." Huysmans' hero Des Esseintes characterizes her as a "weird and superhuman figure he had dreamed of. … [I]n her quivering breasts, … heaving belly, … tossing thighs … she was now revealed as the symbol incarnate of old world vice."
Wilde was especially influenced by Gustave Flaubert's story "Herodias" in which Salome dances on her hands to please Antipas. The type of dance was common among "gypsy" acrobats in the 19th century. Wilde at first intended to follow Flaubert's version, but changed his mind. Shireen Malik says he may have been influenced by the 1870 poem "The Daughter of Herodias" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy which describes Salome dancing:
“She freed and floated on the air her arms
Above dim veils that hid her bosom's charms...
The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists
Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.”
The poem goes on to describe brief views of her "jeweled body" as the flowing veils swirl and part.
In one of Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations to the play, he depicts what he calls a "stomach dance" (i.e. a belly dance), in which Salome is depicted with exposed breasts and undulating belly, wearing transparent pantaloons. Wilde wrote a note in appreciation of Beardsley's design, saying: "For Aubrey: for the only artist who, besides myself, knows what the dance of the seven veils is, and can see that invisible dance." The concept of "belly dancing" had become widely known in 1893, the year before Beardsley created his designs, when it was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago by Fatima Djemille that year.
'La Belle' Fatima born Fatima Djemille in Syria in 1870. Began working as a dancer in American Vaudeville from the late 1880's, the original 'Little Egypt' became America's first renown belly-dancer she was seen as something of a curiosity after appearing at the St. Louis World's Exhibition Fair in 1893, Thomas Edison asked her to perform her belly-dancing act for the movie camera in 1896 and 1897 at the Black Maria studio in West Orange and in 1903 she is seen performing her Turkic-inspired Couchee Dance, also referred to as a 'Muscle dance' for the American Mutoscope Film Co, this film was to be censored in Chicago in 1907 - part of Fatima's body were covered by blind-out tags. Her last stage appearance as a Harem dancer was at William and Oscar Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre in 1913. She sadly died from a heart attack in 1921 age 51 in Venice, California.
An adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play directed by Charles Bryant, Salome, first premiered in 1923:
Richard Strauss’ Opera
Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early Modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome.
In 1905, Strauss produced Salome, a somewhat dissonant modernist opera based on the play by Oscar Wilde, which produced a passionate reaction from audiences. The premiere was a major success, with the artists taking more than 38 curtain calls. The opera is famous (at the time of its premiere, infamous) for its "Dance of the Seven Veils". The final scene is frequently heard as a concert-piece for dramatic sopranos.
An introduction to Richard's Strauss's Salome by the Carnegie Hall in London:
And the trailer for Salome by The Royal Opera House in London:
The opera Salome by Richard Strauss in German. First performance: Dresden, Hofoper, 9 December 1905.
To be continued ...
Oscar Wilde: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde
Salome English Version: www.gutenberg.org/files/42704/42704-h/42704-h.htm
Salome French Version: www.gutenberg.org/files/1339/1339-h/1339-h.htm
Dance of the Seven Veils: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_of_the_Seven_Veils
Fatima Djemille Little Egypt: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Egypt_(dancer)
Fatima Djemille IMDB: www.imdb.com/name/nm0268873/bio
Fatima Djemille 1: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKQMTPr24jQ
Fatima Djemille 2: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LObvE8C5dGI
Salome 1923: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkMq_Cs3OUs
Richard Strauss: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Strauss
Carnegie Hall: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFB2Yk4Yx0
Royal Opera House: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNjdMe8dto4
Salome Drawing: i.pinimg.com/originals/48/bc/d0/48bcd088859d5b7408d0f192b6872882.jpg
Salome Play Cover: www.themorgan.org/collection/printed-books-and-bindings/item/62562#
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