"The Massacre of the Innocents", painted by Pacecco de Rosa during the 1600s, depicts a scene from the Bible in which we see the moment when soldiers were sent out by King Herod to kill every child in the region to end the rumors of a child prophesied to rule the kingdom. The baby whom he was looking for was none other than Jesus Christ. And upon careful observation, one can see that among all of the chaos occurring in this painting, there is one mother and child who do not seem to be frightened like the others, so one may conclude that this is Mary and her son, Jesus. However, this couple is actually Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, and her son, John the Baptist. Their presence in the painting is important, because they are the two main subjects, yet, ironically, they, at first, are the least noticeable. Their coloring is the least dynamic compared to the other figures, and they are located farther back in space than most of the figures as well. One may say they are the calm in the center of the storm, because we see that neither of them are being attacked, nor do they seem scared or stressed in anyway. This is due to the fact that de Rosa wanted to be true to the story, which stated that Elizabeth and John the Baptist were saved from this
De Rosa's motive for painting this piece is quite simple. He lived during the time of the Protestant Reformation, which then led to the Church's Counter-Reformation. Basically, the Catholic Church commissioned a number of painters, sculptors and architects, as well as many other artists, to create works of art that were appealing enough to encourage the community to return to the Church. Consequently, Pacecco de Rosa was one of these artists, thus explaining why he chose this for his subject matter.
The painting is approximately six feet tall by ten feet wide. With this in mind, we see that each figure is about life size, if not slightly larger. De Rosa painted with oils on canvas,...
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