Domaine de Chantilly, France
11 SEPTEMBER 2017 – 7 JANUARY 2018

From 11 September 2017 to 7 January 2018, Poussin’s masterpiece Le Massacre des Innocents, will be the highlight of a landmark exhibition at the Domaine de Chantilly. From it origins to its posterity, the work will unveil its mysteries through prestigious loans and will hang side by side with great names of modern art, among whom Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Annette Messager. A premiere at Chantilly!

The timelessness and relevance of a masterpiece
The Domaine de Chantilly’s musée Condé owns the finest ensemble of paintings and drawings by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) in France, after the Louvre. In this exceptional collection, Le Massacre des Innocents stands out both because of its illustrious owners (Vincenzo Giustiniani, Lucien Bonaparte, the duc d’Aumale…) and because of the radically innovative treatment of the subject drawn from the New Testament. The execution commanded by King Herod of all male children aged under two in the region of Bethlehem was a very common subject in 17th century art. This work greatly impressed its contemporaries; the contrast between the violence and the anonymous brutality of the executioner and the despair and horror expressed by the mother in an unforgettable scream, as well as the poignant and overwhelming tension of the story have attracted the public’s attention through times because of its timeless relevance. This is what explains the painting’s fortune and the fact that it has been copied by numerous artists – Fragonard among them – and has inspired the greatest (Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Henri Cueco, Ernest Pignon-Ernest).

Modern and contemporary art on display for the first time at the Domaine de Chantilly
This exhibition in the Salle du Jeu de Paume of the Domaine de Chantilly will focus on Nicolas Poussin’s masterpiece. Around fifty works will highlight its posterity, giving pride of place to modern and contemporary art. Visitors will first discover the history of the painting and of it owners, from Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani (1564-1637) who commissioned it, to the duc d’Aumale (1822-1897), from Rome to Chantilly through
London. The masterpiece will then be confronted to great 17th century masterpieces (Guido Reni, Pietro Testa) and to an earlier version of the painting from the Petit Palais and a preparatory drawing.

The exhibition will continue with different interpretations of the subject from the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century (Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre, Léon Cogniet). The last rooms will show modern and contemporary reinterpretations of the Massacre des Innocents. Pablo Picasso’s Charnel House (1945), returning to France for the first time since 1954, will hang alongside Head II (1949) by Francis Bacon. Works by contemporary artists who have played the appropriation game (Henri Cueco, Jean-Michel Alberola…) will be presented side by side, in close proximity, in the style of the 19th century hanging of the musée Condé. Finally new propositions by Annette Messager, Pierre Buraglio and Jérôme Zonder will highlight the strength and the relevance of Chantilly’s masterpiece today