Massacre of the Innocents (Guido Reni)

Massacre of the Innocents
Artist Guido Reni
Year 1611[1]
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 268 cm × 170 cm (106 in × 67 in)
Location Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Bologna

Massacre of the Innocents is a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni, created in 1611 for the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, but now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in that same city.[1]


The painting is based on the biblical episode of the Massacre of the Innocents, described in the Gospel of Matthew. The work shows a series of episodes at the same time but is classically composed with each element carefully mirrored by an answering one.[1]

Two killer soldiers, one portrayed from behind while rushing on a screaming woman, and one kneeling towards the mothers with their children, hold knives in the right hand. The mothers are reacting in different ways: one is screaming and attempting to escape the soldiers who has grabbed her hair, another is fleeing towards the right while embracing her child, while another, in the lower left corner, is holding her child on her shoulders; another mother tries to stop a soldier with her left hand, and a kneeling woman is praying towards the sky above the children which has been already slaughtered.

References and sources

  1. ^ a b c "RENI, Guido." in Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Oxford Art Online, Oxford University Press. Accessed 21 October 2013.
  • Wölfflin, Heinrich (1961). Renaissance et baroque. Paris: Gérard Monfort. 
  • Salvy, Gérard-Julien (2001). Guido Reni. Gallimard. 
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