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Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of the Innocents

Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of the Innocents

                                                                              

 

Title:Massacre of the Innocents

Year: 1611

Dimensions: No information

Date of sale:  2002-7-10

Rank at sale: 6

Auction house: Sotheby's, London

Seller: an Austrian family

Buyer: Kenneth Thomson

Original price: USD76, 700,000.00 / GBP49,500,000.00

Adjusted price in March 2011: USD95, 200, 000.00

 

The Massacre of the Innocentsis the title of either of two paintings by Peter Paul Rubensdepicting an episode of the biblical Massacre of the Innocentsas related in the Gospel of Matthew.

The first version painted by Rubens dates from around 1611–12. In the seventeenth-century , the painting was part of the Liechtenstein Collectionin Vienna, Austria, along with another Rubens' masterpiece, Samson and Delilah. After having been miscatalogued by Vincenzio Fanti in 1767, it was attributed to one of Rubens' assistants, Jan van den Hoecke, after Rubens. There, however, it remained until it was sold to an Austrian family in 1920. It was subsequently loaned in 1923 to Stift Reichersberg, a monastery in northern Austria.

In 2001, the painting was seen by George Gordon, an expert in Flemish and Dutch paintings at Sotheby'sin London. He was persuaded that it was indeed a Rubens by its similar characteristics and style to the Samson and Delilah picture, painted at around the same time. The work was sold at auction at Sotheby's, London on July 10, 2002 for £49.5 million (CAD $117 Million)[1]to Canadian businessman Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet.

Following the auction the painting was loaned to the National Gallery, Londonfor a period before its transfer in 2008 to the Art Gallery of Ontarioin Toronto, to whom Thomson had donated it, and which was undergoing a major rebuilding and expansion during those years

It is widely regarded as a demonstration of the artist's learnings from his time spent in Italy between 1600 and 1608, where he observed first-hand the works of Italian Baroquepainters like Caravaggio. These influences are seen in this painting through the sheer drama and emotive dynamism of the scene, as well as the rich colour. There is also evidence of the use of chiaroscuro.

Towards the end of his life, between 1636 and 1638, Rubens painted a second version of the Massacre of the Innocents. This version was acquired by the Alte Pinakothek, Munichby 1706, and it continues to hang there today.[3]

A copy of this later version was made as an engraving in 1643 by Paulus Pontius




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