Bussière is one of the few painters who has depicted Salomé as a young capricious girl, the way she was described in the Bible. Other painters turn her into a mature woman and, especially in the period of Bussière, a femme fatale, devourer of men, deeply evil, and equally sensual. Bussière’s Salomé is naked and yet any sensual pleasure we may get out of looking at her is a very guilty pleasure. She is just a child, only faintly aware of her femininity.
Her dance seems to be more playful then sensuous. Bussière’s interpretation is supported by DeAnna Putman’s analysis of the character of Salomé:
Two key Greek words in the biblical accounts (Mark 6 and Matthew 14) make it very clear that Salome’s honorary dance was not salacious.
First, Salome is referred to as a korasion, meaning, a little girl not yet old enough to be married. Basically this means she had no breasts and had not menstruated yet. Second, the word used for dance here is orxeomai, which not only means dance, but the playful goofing off of young children.
Obviously this adds a layer of complexity to the story which is difficult to join with Oscar Wilde’s interpretation. Belgian youth author Ed Franck, however, was inspired by exactly this conflict: in his novella “Salome” he describes how a teenage Salomé falls in love for the first time, only to meet rejection.