Regardless of whether the event took place as Matthew described, it has certainly inspired many artists. One of the most striking paintings by the Venetian Tintoretto, one of my favorites, is his treatment of this story. Slaughter of the Innocents is just one of his many large depictions of bible stories on display at the remarkable Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice. In fact, the large two story building is so chock full of his paintings that some are displayed on the ceiling of the second floor, where mirrors and seats are provided for viewing.
In his guide to the collection, Francesco Valcanover remarks that Tintoretto's painting displays “a tragic, violently dramatic pathos created by the unrestrained tangle of forms in the cruel scene.... All the details are of epic expressive violence and some attain high points of poetic effectiveness... The individual episodes are ... amalgamated under the unifying, continuous force of radiant lights into a whole that gives off an inspiration of dramatic greatness....”