Early Netherlandish (Active from 1510 in Antwerp)
MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
SN 202, oil on panel, c1515
From "The Pages"
Like most paintings of this place and period, individual attribution is difficult. Antwerp
was a port; her extensive trade and prosperity made it the ideal center for export of
Flemish art. None are signed, few are dated. This painting is judged to be early
Netherlandish, from around Antwerp, c 1515.
The flight into Egypt by the Holy Family can be seen in the middle distance. Usually these
two subjects are reversed in importance, but both are included in late Medieval devotion
as the Seven sorrows of the Virgin. This painting may have been part of a
group dedicated to that tenet.
Typical of Antwerp Mannerists, the composition is crowded with action, costume, and
spectacle. Facial types are repeated and stereotyped. There is great attention to detail.
There are a lot of profiles and heads tilted askance. The slain children in this painting
are awkward and rubbery.
The contorted poses, irrational space, and elaborate decoration are conceits of choice by
the Antwerp Mannerist, but the carefully choreographed movement carries violent action
through the scene.