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Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Poussin, Nicolas
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Poussin, Nicolas

Les Andelys (Normandía), 1594 - Roma, 1665

Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit

1637 - 1638. Oil on canvas, 155 x 234 cm.

Nicolas Poussin has a curious relation to the Buen Retiro Palace. Úbea considers him the determinant artist among all those who took part in its decorative project. That could explain why he was the only one to participate in the two most important sets of works commissioned in Italy: the landscapes, and the history of ancient Rome. At the very least, he painted the present work for the first set, and two more for the second: Meleager’s Hunt (P2320) and Dance in Honor of Priapus (Sao Paulo, Museu de Arte). However, until very recently it was impossible to prove that the latter two were painted for the Buen Retiro Palace, and there has even been frequent doubt about their attribution, especially because the commission called for a format that Poussin had never employed (Úbeda 2005b, p. 183). Moreover, the royal inventories and the first catalogs from the Museo del Prado attributed the anchorite to Dughet, whose works are undeniably similar in appearance. Louis Clément De Ris’s identification of its true author in 1859 fell on deaf ears, although it was confirmed by Émile Magne in 1914. Leading scholars of Poussin’s work, such as Grautoff (1914, p. 268) and Anthony Blunt (1950, p. 70) caused a certain degree of confusion by denying it. The latter even included this painting in the catalog of a certain Silver Birch Master, although he had no difficulty admitting his error and definitively confirming its correct attribution after directly studying the work nine years later. Blunt (1966, p. 71) also slightly advanced the chronology he had proposed in 1959 (1637-38) to 1636-37, as he considered the present work earlier than Finding of Moses (Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. 7271). After that, Whitfield (1979, pp. 15-16) and all later critics have accepted this new attributive proposal.

Moreover, as has already been pointed out by Blunt (1959, pp. 389-90) and Roethlisberger (1961, note 10 p. 160), and recently confirmed by Posada Kubissa (2009, note 19 p. 203), this is not Saint Jerome. While he has customarily been considered the subject, none of his customary attributes appear here. Instead, it is Saint Paul the Hermit, whose presence is documented in the palace inventory of 1701 (Testamentaría 1701, p. 288, no. 146). Perhaps because Paul was the first known hermit saint, his presence at the Buen Retiro Palace was very abundant, with depictions by such outstanding painters as Andrea Sacchi, José de Ribera and Velázquez. Persecuted by Emperor Decius in the mid third century, Saint Paul decided to temporarily flee to the desert rather than renounce his faith. He remained there until his death, when he was accompanied by Saint Anthony, who prepared his tomb with the aid of two lions. When the present painting was restored by Rafael Alonso in 1999, the x-ray image revealed that the tree behind the saint was added by the artist himself after the painting was finished.

The formidable campaign of arts acquisitions carried out by the Count-Duke of Olivares in the 1640s to decorate the vast spaces at Madrid’s Buen Retiro Palace included a very notable number of landscapes. Of these works -almost two hundred in all- we cannot determine how many were purchased in Flanders or Spain, nor which ones came from private collections or other Royal Seats, but thanks to the works at the Museo del Prado and documents found to date, we can establish with certainty that the Buen Retiro Palace was furnished with numerous landscapes painted for the occasion by artists active in Rome.

A series of at least twenty-five landscapes with anchorites and a dozen Italianate landscapes -large format works by different artists- were commissioned. Of the pieces that have survived, most are at the Museo del Prado.

Commissioned in Rome between 1633 and 1641, these landscape paintings from the Buen Retiro constituted an early anthology of this new painting from nature characterized by a new awareness of the effects of light and the atmosphere of the Roman countryside that would eventually spread through most of Europe, representing one of many aspects of classicism (Text drawn from Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 230-232; Capitelli, G. in Úbeda de los Cobos, A.: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, p. 241).

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Related artworks

Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1829 - 1832
Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1829 - 1832
Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1829 - 1832
Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Lithographic aquatint on wove paper, 1829 - 1832
Inventory number
P02304
Author
Poussin, Nicolas
Title
Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Date
1637 - 1638
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
High/Height: 155 cm.; Width: 234 cm.
Serie
Paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro
Provenance
Royal Collection (El Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, [n. 146]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “estudio de Andrés de la Calleja”, 1772, n. 146; El Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, n. 667).

Bibliography +

Clément De Ris, Louis, Le Musée royal de Madrid, París, 1859.

Grautoff, Otto, Nicolas Poussin : sein eerk und sein leben, Georg Muller, Munich, 1914, pp. 268.

Magne, Emile, Nicolas Poussin. Premier Peintre du Roi. 1594-1665. Document..., G.Van Oest, Bruselas, 1914.

Blunt, Anthony, Poussin studies V:''The Silver Birch Master'', The Burlington magazine, 92, 1950, pp. 69-73.

Blunt, Anthony, Poussin studies VIII: a series of Anchorite subjects commissioned by Philip IV from Poussin, Claude and others, The Burlington magazine, 101, 1959, pp. 389-390.

Roethlisberger, Marcel, Claude Lorrain. The Paintings, New Haven, 1961, pp. 160, nota 10.

Blunt, Anthony, The Paintings of Nicolas Poussin. A Critical Catalogue, Phaidon, Londres, 1966.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Thuillier, Jacques, La obra pictorica completa de Poussin, Noguer, Barcelona, 1975.

Whitfield, Clovis, Poussin's early landscapes, The Burlington magazine, 121, 1979, pp. 10-19.

Brown, Jonathan1939-, Un palacio para un rey: el Buen Retiro y la corte de Felipe, Alianza EditorialRevista Occidente, Madrid, 1981, pp. 132/ lám.71.

Claudio de Lorena y el ideal clásico de paisaje en el siglo, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1984, pp. 172.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 516.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, Garland PublishingInc., Nueva York.Londres, 1986, pp. lám.772.

Brown, Jonathan, Velázquez: pintor y cortesano, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1986, pp. 91/ lám.104.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Buendía, José Rogelio1928-, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 496.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 529.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 172.

Goeppert, S., Pablo Picasso. The Illustrated Books : Catalogue Raisonne, Patrick Cramer, Madrid, 2005, pp. 168-189 y 267-269.

Wright, Christopher, Poussin : paintings, a catalogue raisonné, Chaucer Press, 2007, pp. 200.

Poussin y la naturaleza, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Bilbao, 2007.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa : en el Museo Nacional del Prado.Catálogo..., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 203, nota 19.

Rodríguez García de Ceballos, Alfonso, Velázquez y las ermitas del Buen Retiro: entre eremitismo religioso y el refinamiento cortesano, Atrio, 15-16, 2009 2010, pp. 135-148 [141].

Simal, M, Nuevas noticias sobre las pinturas para el Real Palacio del Buen Retiro realizadas en Italia (1633-1642), Archivo español de arte, LXXXIV Julio Septiembre, 2011, pp. 245-260.

Roma naturaleza e ideal : paisajes 1600-1650, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 96, 188-9.

Jewitt, J.R., Weaving together an identity in Nicola Poussin´s 'landscape with an anchorite saint', The Burlington magazine, CLII, 2011, pp. 307-311.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [146].
[146] Un Pais de dos Uaras y media de largo y siette quartas de alto con San Pablo el primer Hermitaño y marco dorado y ttallado tasado en ochentta doblones ... 4800

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 146.
Estudio de don Andres de la Calleja Pintor de Cámara de su magd. [...] {13345} 146 / =Retiro= Otro [pais] de San Pablo primier remitaño original del mismo autor [lorenes]

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 667.
{3030} 667. Otra [pintura] de Nicolas Pusino. Un Pais con Sn. Geronimo, haciendo penitencia: de dos varas escasas de alto, y tres quartas de ancho ... 5000

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 612.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 612.
Dughet (Gaspre ó Gasparo) / 612. País variado y frondoso. / En el se ve á San Geronimo en su sole- / dad haciendo horacion. / La figura es de Nicolas Pusino (C.L.) / Alto 5 pies, 6 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 8 pies, 4 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 2035.
2035.-(612-I.)-País variado y frondoso, donde se ve á San Jerónimo en su soledad haciendo oracion. / Col. de Felipe IV (?).-C.L. / Alto 1,59; ancho 2,34.-L.

Exhibitions +

Rome: Nature and the Ideal. Landscapes 1600-1650
05.07.2011 - 25.09.2011

Nature et idéal. Le paysage à Rome 1600-1650 - Landscape
París
08.03.2011 - 06.06.2011

Poussin y el paisaje
Nueva York NY
11.02.2008 - 11.05.2008

Poussin y el paisaje
Bilbao
08.10.2007 - 13.01.2008

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
Madrid
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
Bonn
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Location +

Room 002 (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 14-10-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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