Salomé is the step-daughter of Herod, who asks her to dance for him and offers in return the fulfilment of any wish, 'unto the half of [his] kingdom.' Having enchanted Herod with her dance, Salomé demands the head of John the Baptist.
The story was a popular theme in art and literature during the Renaissance, but was far less prominent by the time Corbould used it in 1868, although Heinrich Herne's satiric poem Atta Troll had instigated something of a revival by 1841 and Oscar Wilde's sensational play Salomé (1893) was later to form the libretto for an opera by Strauss.
For more than twenty years Corbould served as drawing master to the Royal Family and many of his works were acquired by Queen Victoria. Cold, a later watercolour by Corbould, was sold Christie's, London, 20 February 2003, lot 112, (£10,000).