Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1964.23
Catalogue raisonné: Delaborde 296.2 ; Passavant VI.12.9 ; Bartsch XIV.21.20
Raphael’s choice of subject for this print may have been a deliberate strategy to promote himself as Michelangelo’s rival in the invention of complex compositions in the popular antique style. The scene depicts the aftermath of Herod’s order following the birth of Christ to slaughter all male children two years old or younger in the region of Bethlehem. A frequent subject in art, it offered artists a vehicle to invent a variety of active male and female figures, and to portray an array of emotions such as wrath, fear, and anguish. Working together in Rome, Raphael and Raimondi infused the engraving with local interest; in the background is Rome’s Pons Fabricius, the city’s oldest bridge, built about 62 BC, and still standing today.
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