DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1319, Siena)
Massacre of the Innocents (scene 5)1308-11
Tempera on wood, 48 x 47 cm
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena
This panel is on the front predella of the Maestà. The Massacre of the Innocents is flanked by the standing images of Prophets Malachi and Jeremiah.
The scene of the Massacre of the Innocents (which also portrays Herod in the act of ordering the slaughter) is fully explained in the scroll of the prophet Jeremiah, where one can read: "Vox in Rama audita est, ploratus et ululatus multus: Rachel plorans filios suos" (Jeremiah 31, 15: A cry is heard in Rama, a groaning and bitter lamentation: Rachel is weeping for her sons). The despair of the weeping mothers who form an animated group is dramatically conveyed; they are in contrast to the rhythmic, unhurried gestures of the two soldiers who continue the destruction unmoved.