Discover all 14 City of Paris museums

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Dirck Van Delen - A scene of gallantry in a palace
David Teniers the Younger - Smokers
Jan Steen - The Little Alms Collector
 Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain - Landscape with the Port of Santa Marinella
Petrus Paulus Rubens - The Abduction of Proserpina
Adriaen Van Ostade - The Analysis
Jacob Jordaens - Diana Resting
 Rembrandt - Self-portrait in Oriental Attire
Meindert Hobbema - The Water Mills
Nicolas de Largillierre - Red-legged partridge in a niche
Henri Mauperché - Composite Landscape
Frans Van Mieris, known as Mieris the Elder - The interrupted song
Nicolas Poussin - The Massacre of the Innocents
Abraham de Vries - Portrait of a man

The Massacre of the Innocents

Les Andelys (Eure), 1594 - Rome (Italy), 1665
Circa 1626-1627
Oil on canvas
97 x 131,7 cm

The Gospel of St. Matthew tells the story of the Massacre of the Innocents. King Herod ordered the killing of all boys under the age of two born in the Bethlehem area, for the Magi had told him that a child destined to become the king of the Jews had been born in the city. Jesus was saved from the massacre when his Family fled to Egypt.

Nicolas Poussin depicts this dramatic episode of the New Testament. The soldier on the left tramples a horrified mother who can no longer protect her child. At the centre, another tries to flee. To the right, a third tries to hold back the executioner. The fourth, kneeling, mourns her dead child.

Pleading, horror, terror, despair, each woman’s face expresses a different feeling. The dark architecture that closes off the background of the painting leaves no escape route for the figures arranged in a frieze like an antique low relief. The faces of the soldiers, anonymous, indifferent executioners, are drowned in shadow. Their bodies form arabesques, like a macabre dance around the victims.

Even when Poussin painted tragedy, he strove for harmony in his clever and rigorous composition, to the delight of connoisseurs.

M. A. P.

Inventory number: 
Inventory number : PDUT00879
Acquisition details : Dutuit bequest, 1902
Room 30
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