This version of Herodias is a study for a painting that was presented at the 1887 Salon and whose current whereabouts are unknown. Henner often prepared for his paintings by doing large studies on brown paper which allowed him to establish the essential features of his composition. They are characterised by a force and expressiveness that are toned down in the final work.
Herodias is seen holding a platter in which lies the severed head of John the Baptist that her daughter, Salome, obtained by pleasing Herod with her dancing. Henner painted several female characters from the Bible in similar poses: Herodias (in 1887, of which there are several versions), Judith (around 1886-1887) and Rebecca (around 1903-1905).