This piece was created as a version of the classically illustrated scene of Salome with the head of St. John the Baptist, originally scripted as a biblical story, and later popularized in a play by Oscar Wilde, and an opera by Richard Strauss. The story tells of King Herod's step-daughter, Salome, who danced for him on his birthday. Herod was so enthralled and impressed with her "graceful movements" that he promised her anything she could want, "up to half of his kingdom." In some versions of the story, Salome asks her mother what to ask for; in other versions, it is Salome herself who demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Being imprisoned by Herod, he ordered the beheading and gave her her wish, although he was grievous to have had to do so. The title is taken from Matthew 14:7, after Salome's infamous dance.