Thomas Jefferson considered his work toward religious freedom in the United States, specifically the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. This work not only occurred in the political and legislative arenas, but also within the rooms of Monticello during his retirement years. We know that Jefferson had his home decorated with conversation pieces like statues, scientific gadgets, and paintings.

His copy of a religious portrait, Salome Bearing the Head of St. John the Baptist, would almost certainly have inspired discussions between Jefferson and his guests about religious persecution and liberty.

Monticello Guide and House Tour Supervisor Justin Bates takes us to the Parlor at Monticello to share the important story of this painting and its connections to religious freedom in America.


This video was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.