Although born in Anstruther, Fife, Robert Fowler spent much of his working life in Liverpool, after studying in London. His studio in Castle Street became a chief centre for artistic life in the city, and he was a keen supporter of the Walker Art Gallery, for which he designed posters. His decorative paintings, of myth and allegory, were much influenced by the classicizing works of Leighton and Albert Joseph Moore. He was also influenced by the prevailing taste for japonisme. In the present painting this can be seen in the careful spatial treatment, counterpoised by sprays of blossom. The colouring clearly owes a debt to Moore.
Salome's famous dance of the seven veils was performed for her step-father, King Herod. St John the Baptist had rebuked Herod for marrying Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. After a banquet at which his step-daughter had danced, Herod was so enamoured that he promised her anything that she asked for. Prompted by her mother, Herodias, who wished for revenge on being defamed, Salome asked for the Baptist's head on a plate. Herod, although distressed, granted her wish.