- Inventory number
- Poussin, Nicholas
- Landscape with Saint Paul the Hermit
- 1637 - 1638
- 155 cm x 234 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701, [n. 146]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “estudio de Andrés de la Calleja”, 1772, n. 146; El Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, n. 667)
This hermit saint praying in a clearing in the woods is traditionally identified as Saint Jerome, although he might also be Saint Paul the Hermit. Semi-nude, he is only covered by a braided-palm skirt. He leans over in front of a cross and a skull, which are symbols of penitent saints alluding to their meditation on death. His right hand holds a stone with which, according to tradition, he will beat his body to expiate his sins.
The carefully rendered landscape painted with patches of color after the manner of Titian (Ca. 1485-1576), reveals a characteristic always present in Poussin's work: Nature is the true protagonist of his paintings; the subject represented is relegated to a secondary role.
This is one of a series of paintings of anchorites made for the Buen Retiro Palace at the behest of King Felipe IV. It is listed in that Palace's inventory from 1701.