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Poussin, Nicolas

Les Andelys, Normandy, 1594 - Rome, 1665

Poussin is the most important 17th-century French painter and the absolute master of classicism. He trained in the region where he was born with an artist of the final stage of Mannerism and later in Paris. His friendship with the poet Marino enabled him to travel to the Italian Peninsula and he frequented the most advanced intellectual circles in Rome, also becoming acquainted with the patrons and protectors of the arts in the Eternal City, where he established himself. Poussin's success stems from his rejection of Caravaggism, which was then beginning to be outdated, and his espousal of the great Renaissance examples, modernised by a tempered Baroque classicism. An admirer of Giulio Romano, and above all of Raphael, he turned to a pure classicism influenced by Domenichino and by other similarly spirited painters and soon found a personal artistic expression of his own which sprang from his knowledge of classical antiquity -he studied texts, sculptures, bas-reliefs and architectural remains- and from in-depth observation of nature. His style became imbued with a scholarly Greco-Latin aura and his scenes began to be composed with restraint and balance. Around 1630 the Venetian influence that extended to Roman artists enriched the painter's intellectualised aesthetic, breathing new life into his works through colour. Throughout his lifetime he executed allegorical, mythological and historical scenes that were aimed at a select and cultured clientele formed by erudite people, as well as religious paintings endowed with solemn monumentality, though often cold. Apart from these themes he painted many landscapes, some as backgrounds to his compositions and others as the main subject. His very beautiful panoramic views display an admirable logical construction; whether serene or stormy, they have an air of conscious timelessness. Poussin is the prototype of the artist-philosopher concerned with the expression of his art, which he endowed with a sober moral content. Each of his works symbolises a human action that conveys a message of notable spiritual depth. His ideas are independent of chance and his compositions are well thought out, down to the slightest detail. He always lived in Rome, except for a brief stint in Paris between 1640 and 1642. The Museo del Prado possesses a very important set of masterpieces by the artist and a few by certain well identified helpers, followers and imitators (Luna, J. J.: From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, p. 392).

Artworks (15)

The Triumph of David
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1630
Poussin, Nicolas
Oil on canvas, 1625 - 1626
Poussin, Nicolas
Bacchic Scene
Oil on canvas, 1626 - 1628
Poussin, Nicolas
Saint Cecilia
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1635
Poussin, Nicolas
Oil on canvas, 1630 - 1631
Poussin, Nicolas
The Hunt of Meleager
Oil on canvas, 1634 - 1639
Poussin, Nicolas
Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
Oil on canvas, 1637 - 1638
Poussin, Nicolas
Landscape with Ruins
Oil on canvas, 1642
Poussin, Nicolas
Landscape with Buildings
Oil on canvas, 1648 - 1651
Poussin, Nicolas


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