Franz von Bayros


Sisters of Salome

mixed media on paper,

before 1920


Franz von Bayros (Agram/Zagreb 1866-1924 Vienna)


"Schwestern der Salome" ["Sisters of Salome"]


probably before 1920

mixed media (chalk, watercolor, charcoal, and pencil) on lightly structured firm wove paper

74,2 x 97,3 cm

lower right signed in pencil "bayros"


probably G[erta] Rannacher Kunsthandlung und Verlag, Vienna (stamp verso)

Exhibition History:

"Alfred Kubin: Confessions of a Tortured Soul," Leopold Museum, Vienna, April 16 - July 24, 2022

Publication History:

Hans-Peter Wipplinger, ed., Alfred Kubin: Confessions of a Tortured Soul (Vienna: Leopold Museum, 2022), pgs. 113 (ill.), 319.


The scandalous Austrian artist Franz von Bayros was an important figure in the Decadent movement who was known for his phantasmagoric erotic illustrations and is often compared to Félicien Rops and Aubrey Beardsley. Bayros was born in 1866 into an aristocratic family in Zagreb.  At the age of 17, he was admitted to the Vienna Academy. In 1897, he moved to Munich, where he continued his studies and had his first major exhibition, in 1904, which was well-received; this success was followed by study trips to Paris (where he was influenced by the Rococo) and to Italy. After publication of his controversial portfolio of erotica, Erzählungen am Toilettentische [Tales from the Dressing Tables], he was arrested and exiled from Germany in 1911, returning to Vienna. Thereafter, Bayros felt increasingly marginalized and alienated; he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1924.

His contemporary, the writer Rudolf Hans Bartsch, regarded this drawing, "Sisters of Salome," as perhaps Bayros' most remarkable work ("es ist vielleicht das Heißeste"), a "phantasm" of tension "between holiness and perversion." 

The main motif is the round dance of the four nude female figures, the Salome sisters. And the drawing is formally characterized by elegantly curved lines that create the graceful poses of this ecstatic dance. Princess Salome herself sits on the throne in the background as the dancers celebrate the cruelty of the act in dark sensuality, while the head of John the Baptist is barely visible on the tray that the sisters carry above their heads.  From the throne to the front hall, a sea of rose petals adorns the steps of the stairs and symbolizes the blood of the deed. Bayros thus manages to combine pain, cruelty, beauty, and eroticism in this masterful drawing.

Together with five other drawings on the subject of Salome, this drawing was published, circa 1920, as a heliogravure in the portfolio entitled Bayros Mappe.  The Daulton collection also owns a copy of this portfolio:



Choisi Le Conin (a pseudonym used by Franz von Bayros) 
"Schwestern der Salome" ["Sisters of Salome"]
Bayros Mappe, 2nd ed. (with forward by Rudolf Hans Bartsch)
Vienna/Prague/Leipzig: Verlag Ed. Strache, 1920
Sheet 41
The Daulton Collection


Emanuele Bardazzi, ed., La Vergine e la Femme Fatale.L'eterno femminino nell'imaginario grafico del Simbolismo e dell'Art Nouveau [The Virgin and the Femme Fatale: The Eternal Feminine in the Graphic Imaginary of Symbolism and Art Nouveau] (Florence: Edizioni Polistampa 2017), nr. 96, pg. 120.




Jack Daulton

The Daulton Collection

Los Altos Hills, California