POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)

Massacre of the Innocents II

Oil on canvas, 148 x 175 cm
Musée Condé, Chantilly

Poussin painted two versions of The Massacre of the Innocents between 1628 and 1632. For the second version, he made a preparatory study in a drawing that he evidently only translated into a painting some time later.

In the second version, he extracts a single motif - the man trampling on the child and grasping the mother by her hair - from the first version and composes a new scene around this group. Its essential elements are already present in the drawing: from a number of figures lined up in a row, Poussin reduces the protagonists to the ensemble of mother, infant and soldier and supplements this with a mother fleeing in the right-hand background. The figures are made to stand out in monumental fashion against the blue sky.

In 1927 the British painter Francis Bacon, who at that time was living near Chantilly, saw in the local Musée Condé the Massacre of the Innocents II, from which he would draw inspiration throughout his career.