Study from the 'The Massacre of the Innocents'

Image credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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Tischbein made this drawing in Rome on his first trip to Italy (1779–1781). He studied under the Swiss sculptor Alexander Trippel, but he also made numerous drawings after the High Renaissance masters including this dramatic example. The artist focusses on the head of one of the executioners in a famous tapestry showing 'The Massacre of the Innocents', part of a set which is hung in the Vatican. The head, full of murderous intent, would have been at the artist’s eye level. The subject was probably designed by Giulio Romano, Raphael’s best-known pupil, and this was undoubtedly the attraction for the young artist.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts



Study from the 'The Massacre of the Innocents'




black chalk on paper


H 49 x W 36.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired, 2006

Work type



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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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