Saint Mary Salome and Her Family together with its companion piece Saint Mary Cleophas and Her Family, also in the National Gallery, were wings from an altarpiece combining painting and sculpture that was dedicated to the Holy Kinship or extended family of Christ. There was a fascination with the details of the life of the Holy Family as well as a growing desire to experience the Gospels on a human level in the late Middle Ages. According to the Golden Legend, written about 1270 as a compilation of earlier tales, Saint Anne married three times, her third husband being the father of Mary Salome, who was thus the half-sister of the Virgin Mary.
Strigel, who worked in Memmingen, a small city in the southern German province of Bavaria, makes Mary Salome the center of a comfortable domestic scene. Her father Salomas, wearing characteristic Jewish headgear, hovers behind her, while her husband Zebedee sits beside her. Their two small sons James and John are identifiable by the names inscribed on their halos. They will grow up to be disciples of Christ, and indeed Saint John is already busy writing a book in Hebrew like characters, foretelling his future activity as one of the four authors of the Gospels.
on halo of female figure: SANCTA MARIA SALOME; on halo of child at cetner: SANCTVS IACOBVS MA; on halo of child at lower left: SANCTV IOHANES EWAN
Possibly O. Streber, Munich. (Haskard Bank, Florence, and Charles Fairfax Murray, as agent, by 1900); sold 1900 to (Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London); sold May 1900 to Rodolphe Kann [d. 1905], Paris; by descent to executors of the Kann estate: Edouard Kann, Paris; Betty Schnaffer [née Kann], Frankfurt; Martin and Eleanore [née Kann] Bromberg, Hamburg; Jacob and Mathilde [née Kann] Emden, Hamburg, and Edmond and Madeline [née Kann] Bickard See, Paris. (Duveen Brothers, Paris, August, 1907); purchased August 1907 by members of the Kann family, possibly Martin and Eleanore Bromberg, Hamburg. Probably Dr. Max Emden, Switzerland, by 1939. (Wildenstein & Co., New York, by 1939); purchased February 1954 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; at the NGA from 1956; gift 1961 to NGA.
- Seventh Anniversary Exhibition of German, Flemish, and Dutch Painting, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art -- Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, Missouri, 1940-1941, no. 57, as The Virgin Instructing the Infant.
- Holbein and His Contemporaries, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, 1950, no. 68.
- Baum, Julius. "Strigel." In Thieme-Becker. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 32(1938):189.
- Bode, Wilhelm von. Catalogue of the Rodolphe Kann Collection. 2 vols. Paris, 1907: 2:nos. 115-116, repro.
- Weizinger, Franz Xavier. "Die Maler-Familie der 'Strigel' in der ehemals freien Reichsstadt Memmingen." Festschrift des Münchener Altertums-verein zur Erinnerung an das 50. Jahr Jubiläum. 1914: 143, no. 31.
- Weizinger, Franz Xavier. "Bernhard Strigel 1460-1528." Memminger Geschichts-Blätter 14(June 1928): 10.
- Stange, Alfred. Deutsche Malerei der Gotik. 11 vols. Berlin and Munich, 1934-1961. Munich, 1957: 8:144, fig. 299.
- Otto, Gertrud. "Zwei Sippenbilder von Bernhard Strigel." Memminger Geschichts-Blätter, 1951: 1-2.
- Suida, William E. Paintings and Sculpture of the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Denver, 1954: 64, no. 28, repro.
- Bach, Otto Karl, et al. "European Art. The Denver Art Museum Winter Collection." Denver Art Museum Quarterly (1955): 15, no. 31, repro. 14.
- Frankfurter, Alfred. "Crystal Anniversary in the Capital." Art News 55, no. 1 (March 1956): 26, repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Colllection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1951-56. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida and Fern Rusk Shapley. National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1956: 172, no. 68, repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 313, repro.
- Rettich, Edeltraud. "Bernhard Strigel. Ergänzungen und Berichtigungen zu: Alfred Stange `Deutsche Malerei der Gotik, VIII. Band, Schwaben'." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 22 (1959): 163-165.
- Broadley Hugh T. German Painting in the National Gallery of Art (Booklet no. 9 in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Washington, 1960: 9, 34-35, color repro.
- Otto, Gertrud. Bernhard Strigel. Munich and Berlin, 1964: 48, 50-51, 98, no. 38 a, b, repro. 47, 49 (color), figs. 94-95.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 125
- Stange, Alfred. Kritisches Verzeichnis der deutschen Tafelbilder vor Dürer. 3 vols. Munich, 1970: 2:204, no. 899 a, b.
- European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 112, no. 1641, repro.
- Musper, Heinrich Theodor. "Strigel, Bernhard." Kindlers Malerei Lexikon, edited by Germain Bazin, et al. 6 vols. Zürich, 1964-1971. Zürich, 1968: 5:436.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 334, repro. 335.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 151 nos. 161, 162, repro. 150.
- Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 26-28, fig. 19.
- Thümmel, Hans Georg. "Bernhard Strigels Diptychon für Cuspinian." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien 76 (1980): 108, n. 36.
- Wolff, Martha. German Art of the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1983: unpaginated, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 151, no. 156, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 383, repro.
- Michaelis, Rainer. Deutsche Gemälde 14. -18. Jahrhundert Staatliche Museen Berlin. Gemäldegalerie. Katalog Band III. Berlin, 1989: 110.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 62, repro.
- Hand, John Oliver, with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1993: 176-180, color repro. 175.
- Löcher, Kurt. Review of German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries, by John Oliver Hand with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. Kunstchronik 43 no. 1 (January 1995): 19-20.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 140, no. 109, color repro.
The painting is on a fir panel apparently composed of two boards with vertical grain, although numerous cracks make it difficult to determine the number of joins. In 1947 the panel was thinned, marouflaged to mahogany, and cradled. As with the pendant, the ground is rather thick and the bole under the gilding is reddish in tone. The same extensive underdrawing is revealed under examination with infrared reflectography; changes in the eye and thumb of the man to the right of Mary Salome are visible.
The picture is basically in good condition. There is a certain amount of worm tunneling, visible at the edges of the panel. The paint layer is in generally good condition; retouching is confined to the edges, the joins, and the numerous vertical cracks in the bottom third of the painting.
 The wood was identified as fir by Michael Palmer, National Gallery's scientific research department; Eisler 1977 listed the support of this painting and 1961.9.89 as linden.