Symbolism In The Massacre Of The Innocents

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The Massacre of the Innocents is a French Baroque painting done by Peter Paul Rubens around the year 1611. It depicts the biblical episode of the Massacre of the Innocents of Bethlehem, in which King Herod ordered the killing of all infant males. This was to prevent a prophecy that foretold of the new King of the Jews taking over his throne (galleryintell.com). This particular scene in the painting shows women in a city’s streets trying to stop soldiers from carrying out the King’s orders and killing their babies with little success. It is a dark scene that gives off feelings of sadness, desperation, and grief. The way Rubens did the lighting for this painting works to put a spotlight on the action. The foreground is brightly illuminated to draw the viewers’ attention to the main action in the painting. While the background does its job of showing its viewers that this scene is taking place in a city street, it is clear that it is…show more content…
The rich upper classes wore clothing that was very ornate and made from only the finest materials available to them. The clothing worn in this painting is plain, simple, and practical. Also the helmet worn by a soldier in the background appears to be Roman in origin; this leads me to think that these are Roman soldiers carrying out their king’s orders of infanticide.
Also worth noting is that the women and infants in the painting are depicted as having a much lighter skin tone than the men. This was a common practice among artists of many different cultures; it was a way to easily differentiate between men and women or people of different cultures in works of art. A reason for this is that typically, women and children spent more time working inside, out of the sun, and so would logically have paler skin. Men, especially soldiers, spent much more of their time outside working in the sun, and so would have more of a tan than the

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