The Massacre of the Innocents

The Massacre of the Innocents - Nicolas Poussin © RMN
Around 1628 - Nicolas Poussin - (The Andelys, 1594-Rome, 1665)
The Massacre of the Innocents - Nicolas Poussin © RMN

The Marquis Giustiniani in Rome commissionned this piece. To maintain visibility within an overflowing baroque decor, Poussin structured his composition around two diagonal lines converging across the mother's screaming face. The painting, in the end, is just that: a scream. The characters are set as if on a theater stage, with a few extras in the background that allow for subject identification. Poussin used all three primary colors - red, blue, yellow - in a swirling movement and added violent lighting, with a Caravaggio inspiration. This work has inspired Picasso, who painted in his meditarranean period (1920-1922) characters similar to the woman standing on the right.