Massacre of the Innocents Painting

Sir Peter Paul Rubens is an exceptional Flemish Baroque painter who is famous for his extravagance of style. He was born in Siegen, German province of Westphalia however his parents are natives of Antwerp, Belgium. Although born in a different country, he was raised in his parents’ hometown and finished his education in a Jesuit school upon his mother’s insistence. He became a member of Antwerp Painters’ guild and began with his travels to Italy, Spain, Genoa and Rome. His father who is a lawyer died when he was still young and so Rubens’ life was greatly influenced by his schoolmaster’s and his mother’s sturdy religious character. His religious influence is greatly evidenced in his masterpieces and he became the leading influence of Catholic Counter-Reformation style in painting. He is famous for his colorful, mysterious, and extravagant style of painting and most especially for the passionate religious quality of his portraits.

One of his famous masterpieces is the controversial Massacre of the Innocents. This painting is an evidence of his deep religious passion and influence. It is based from a chapter in the bible. The painting is all about King Herod’s attempt to kill infant Jesus upon the knowledge that a great Jew king has been born. He was in a killing frenzy in an attempt to prevent infant Jesus from becoming a rival. Rubens perfectly and artistically portrayed the heinous religious crime.

The painting was controversial because it has two versions. The first version was created during 1611-1612 and was mistakenly attributed to one of his assistants Jan van den Hoecke for the longest time. It was only in 2001 when an expert judged it and declared the painting to be Rubens’. The second version was painted by Rubens towards the end of his life around the year 1636 and 1638 and is still hanging in the Alte PinakothekMunich collection until the present. These mishaps happened because Ruben trained his students to paint portraits exactly the way he does. Or he lets his students paint and he does the finishing touches of the portraits.

The painting has profound religiosity and is painted with emotion and passion that is why it stays in one’s mind. It is lavished with colors and intense style that enhances the dramatic sense of the painting. The painter used Italian Baroque style which shows that Rubens was greatly influenced by Caravaggio. One thing that made this painting famous is the rich combination of decorative style, the intense movement and sensuality of the characters in the painting and the dramatic combination of rich and intense colors used by the painter.

Another thing that made this painting so renowned is the style which is expertly executed by Rubens. The painting was painted using Chiaroscuro; it is a style using light and dark color contrast. Rubens expertly played with the colors and perfectly combined them and played with its contrast magnificently resulting to a great masterpiece of all time.

Up to this moment, Rubens continues to live among us through his undying works of art. The Massacre of the Innocents remains one of the best artwork and is evidence that once long ago a great portrait painter existed.

Author:    Shyxter

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