(b. 1562, Haarlem, d. 1638, Haarlem)

Massacre of the Innocents

Oil on canvas, 245 x 358 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

When Jesus was born and King Herod heard that the infant was the King of the Jews, he ordered that all boy children in Bethlehem under two years of age should be put to death. Meanwhile, however, Mary and Joseph had fled to safety with their baby. The senseless slaughter of the innocents is an example of ruthless tyranny. The painting was probably commissioned on behalf of Prince Maurits, whose task as commander-in-chief of the army was to rid the Netherlands of Spanish tyranny.

A second version of this subject was made one year later for the city of Haarlem.