Pieter Bruegel the Elder ca. 1520 – 1569

Massacre of the Innocents

oil on panel (102 ∅ 155) — 1566-1567 Museum Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, Windsor

Pieter Bruegel the Elder biography

This work is linked to Matthew 2:16

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King Herod had all boys in Bethlehem under the age of two killed, because he feared a future rival was among them.

Bruegel set the episode in a village in Brabant, in present-day Belgium. The soldiers are Spanish troops. At the time Brabant suffered under Spanish rule.

The panel was painted over in the 17th century to make it less macabre. The children were replaced by animals.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has a copy of the original version that still shows the killing of children. The copy was probably made by Bruegel's son Pieter.

Detail here.

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