Massacre of the Innocents, c. 1780


In the biblical story of the Massacre of the Innocents, King Herod orders the killing of all boys two and younger in Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Three magi (wise men) from the East had arrived in Jerusalem seeking the newborn king of the Jews, whose star they had seen. Taking this as a threat to his rule, Herod found out where the child was to be born and ordered the massacre—but Jesus was no longer there. The Holy Innocents, recognized as the first Christian martyrs, are commemorated in Christian worship. This painting is thought to be a study for a mural in a church in Naples, Italy .

Massacre of the Innocents
Artist Life
Italian (Naples), 1730–1803
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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