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  • Massacre of the Innocents

    Artist:
    Bourdon, Sébastien. 1616-1671
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    126x177 cm

Bourdon, Sébastien. 1616-1671

Massacre of the Innocents

France, Early 1640s

According to the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-12), when King Herod learned from the Magi that a child was born in Bethlehem who was predestined to become the King of the Jews, he ordered that all boys aged two and under who were born in this city should be killed. Most likely the main reason why this painting was made was the artist?s wish to respond to Charles Lebrun?s 1647 work by the same name (Dulwich College Picture Gallery). The picture is one of the most complex in terms of composition to be found among Bourdon?s works. In the way space has been organized and in the plastic rendering of the figures, we can see the influence of Nicolas Poussin, such as from his works Gathering of the Manna (Louvre, Paris) and The Rape of the Sabine Women (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The event can be followed by the viewer step-by-step. Our gaze moves from one group to another leading towards the centre of the picture. The event takes place against a background of magnificent structures in precise and simple geometric forms that lend additional clarity to the composition.

Title:

Massacre of the Innocents

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

126x177 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1779; acquired from the R. Walpole collection, Houghton Hall, England

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-1223

Category:

Collection: