Nicolas Poussin France
6-15-1594 Les Andelys, FRA – 11-19-1665 Rome, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
One of the leading exponents of Baroque painting, Nicolas Poussin settled in Paris in 1612. ignoring the Mannerist painting then fashionable, he took Raphael as his model and studied the great Classical works of the Italian Renaissance. He left Paris in 1623 and began traveling Italy, studying the works of the Italian masters at first hand.
Nicolas Poussin settled in Rome the following year. Apart from a brief sojourn in Paris between 1640-1642 he spent the rest of his life in Rome, executing commissions for Cardinal Barberini. Eschewing the increasingly popular Baroque style, he clung to the Classical style and became its greatest French exponent.
Nicolas Poussin drew upon the rich store of Greek and Roman mythology for his subjects, while utilizing the techniques of color developed by Titian. His greatest canvasses deal with vast subjects, crowd scenes crammed with action and detail. Later on he tended to concentrate more on landscapes, although still steeped in the Classical tradition.
Throughout his life Nicolas Poussin stood apart from the popular tendency toward the decorative in French art of his time. In Poussin's works a survival of the impulses of the Renaissance is coupled with conscious reference to the art of classical antiquity as the standard of excellence. Themes of tragedy and death are prevalent in Poussin's work. Poussin is an important figure in the development of landscape painting. In his early paintings the landscape usually forms a graceful background for a group of figures; later he progressed to the painting of landscape for its own sake, although the figure is never entirely absent.
Nicolas Poussin style was imitated by many of his contemporaries, and influenced the work of French artists such as Jacques Stella and Sébastien Bourdon, the Italian painter Pier Francesco Mola, and the Dutch painter Gerard de Lairesse. Benjamin West, an American painter of the 18th century who worked in Britain, based his canvas of The Death of General Wolfe—in which each character gazes with appropriate seriousness on Wolfe's death—on Poussin's The Death of Germanicus.
In the 20th century, art critics have suggested that the "analytic Cubist" experiments of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were founded upon Poussin's example. In 1963 Picasso based a series of paintings on Nicolas Poussin's The Rape of the Sabine Women. The work of Jean Hugo was also influenced by Poussin.
Today, Nicolas Poussin's paintings at the Louvre reside in a gallery dedicated to him.
Art Movement: Baroque, Classicism
Influences: Georges Lallemand
Influenced: Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Paul Cézanne, Jacques Stella, Sébastien Bourdon, Pier Francesco Mola, Gerard de Lairesse, Benjamin West