barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Johann Heinrich Tischbein (1751-1829)

Study from ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’

Rome, about 1780

Black chalk on paper

490 x 365 mm


Tischbein made this drawing in Rome during a study trip to Italy (1779-1781). This was a common journey for artists at the time, giving them the chance to study and copy works of Renaissance masters.

Here, Tischbein focuses on the head of an executioner from The Massacre of the Innocents, from one of a set of tapestries in the Vatican. The tapestry was designed by Giulio Romano (about 1499-1546), Raphael’s best-known pupil, and would have been an attractive source of study for a young artist. Tischbein modified the Renaissance classical head, injecting a vehemence and ferocity that transcends the original.

Purchased 2006 (No. 2006.1)

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