Nicolas Poussin – The Age of Reason

Nicolas Poussin and the Age of Reason

This essay aims to demonstrate Nicolas Poussin’s role as one of the key figures in the foundation of the French Academy.  Through an analysis of his paintings Israelites gathering Manna in the desert, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, and The Judgment of Solomon specifically, we see the key fundamental ideas that reflect and characterize his theoretical views as a Baroque ‘classicist’ painter; theories that were of vital importance to the French Royal Academy of Arts.

Nicolas Poussin, was a French born painter, who lived in Rome for more than half his life during the seventeenth century.  Poussin’s painting reflect an ideology of clarity, logic, and order within the composition, and its formal elements.  Poussin’s paintings were effectively transformed into an aesthetic vehicle that was representative of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, 1648.

On the 24th November 1647, Poussin developed a theory of art, otherwise known as his ‘theory of modes’ which held that every element of a painting had a powerful psychological impact on the viewer, thus each of the elements of color, line, and form must be visualized in a clear, logical and orderly manner.  Poussin based this theory in part on ancient Greek music theory.  Poussin’s concept initiated the theoretical backbone of all his mature art, and subsequently the syllabus for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.  Poussin’s mature works represented the desired qualities for their teachings, as they incorporate knowledge and a methodical thinking, like no other artist of the time.  It is of importance to note that Poussin’s creative process and method of painting is so meticulous, that nothing is left to chance: absolutely every aspect of his paintings are planned in advance with a particular emotional impact in mind.  When once asked how he achieved such perfection in painting, Poussin replied, “I have neglected nothing.”[1]

The historic development of the French Academy fell within a period where rhetorical discourses of power were taking place within the political, the social, and the pictorial.[2]  The formation of the French Academy was initially an act of creating a concrete cultural identity for the French nation, along with the notion of a “renovation” and amalgamation of the Italian arts.[3]

Their aim was to establish an artistic program, based on the rational thought process, which was best portrayed within History painting.  Italy was seen as the Mecca’ of the arts, where many artists were flocking to from across Europe, including Nicolas Poussin who came from the countryside nearby to Les Andelys in Normandy.  Poussin had similar ambitions and ideals for himself, which were adopted for the foundation of the Academy’s curriculum.  Pousin’s previously acquired knowledge of Latin and his passion for the Italian artists made him an instant Italophile.  He had tried several times to go to Italy, finally arriving in Rome via Venice, March 1624.

It is through Giulio Mancini and Bellori, that we know of Poussin’s journey to Rome via Venice; from Mancini’s  brief, fragmentary note on Poussin in his Considerations on Painting, c.1627: He stayed in Venice for some time and then, imbued with Venetian ideas and manners, he came to Rome.  Here he practiced making studies from the live model according to the principles of his teacher [Domenichino], but he enriched them with elements that he had learned in Venice…because of his literary erudition, he is familiar with almost any story (historia), fable (favola), or poem (poesia) so that he can express them-as he does in the most felicitous way-with his brush ….

Friedlander informs us that Rome, under the power of Pope Urban VIII, had become the center of European art, offering artists throughout Europe everything an artist could wish for: the relics of Antiquity; The High Renaissance-Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian; the late maniera, and the revival of classic art of Annibale Carraccci, to the psychological realism of Caravaggio: the Baroque style.  Poussin, carefully selected his ideas and principles from the Antiquity and the Renaissance masters, and gradually took a turn from the more baroque features towards a form of ‘classicizing’.[4]

The French Academy was in need of bridging the ideals of the Roman world into an institute that would reflect Poussin’s ideals.  Traditionally, the Guilds were long established as part of the training for artists in workshops under specific masters.  However, there was more politics involved than meets the eye.  The Guilds had played an opposing threat to the Academies existence.  Nevertheless, the Academy was trying its utmost best to differentiate themselves from the already existing Maîtrise/Guilds.[5]  Moreover, it was the categories of “art” and “craft” which were deployed as propagandistic tools to bring about their existence.  After a week since the new Academy had opened, the members met in order to schedule the classes in art instruction, “in emulation of the Academia di San Luca in Rome; imitation of the art of the past, noble themes, and study of the figure – in other words, history painting – would provide the focus”.[6]  Along with the instruction in drawing, additional supplementary lessons in anatomy and perspective were conducted as a useful tool for the history painter.  Painting was not yet recognized as part of the curriculum, only until the teaching reforms of 1863.[7]  On account of Testelin, the secretary at the time, mentions Le Brun conducting the inaugural session, before an audience of amateurs, academicians, and students on the 1 February 1648.[8]  In trying to claim public support for its existence, the Academy had to gain recognition through the public eye.

Hence, the Academy’s ideological approach for education was based upon the notion that painting could be reasoned about, and communicated to students.  However, the Academy proposed the separation of instruction from production, excluding studio practice from its curriculum and to hold exclusive right to conduct life drawing from the model.  This practice had found its origins already in late-Renaissance Italy.  This of course excluded the Maîtrise from offering this type of instruction.  Furthermore, the imitation of Italian art became the goal of French artists, opposing the northern genres of the Dutch, who employed a more descriptive style.[9]

Poussin’s style is characterized by an emphasis on the linear and contour, and color to suit the theme of the picture, whilst warm, earthy tones dominated Poussin’s earlier works, blues, greens and reds dominate in his mature period; figures related to ancient Roman-Greco friezes, within a composition related to a theatre-like space.  It was during the early 1630s that Poussin’s art underwent a fundamental change of direction.  Rejecting the seductive attractions of Venetian paintings, with its lustrous color and vibrant brushwork, he adopted instead a more severe and cerebral style that emphasized, clearly delineated and modeled forms over the intensity of the vivid colors of the Venetians.  His compositions also became gradually more rigid and ordered, with the figures often arranged in a frieze-like manner parallel to the picture plane.

In viewing Nicolas Poussin’s  Israelities gathering Manna in the desert, (fig. 1)  painted 1637-9, we are able to read the rectangular canvas as a narration of varied actions within its composition from left to right.  With the aid of Poussin’s linear treatment in rendering the content of his composition, one is guided structurally with the senses:  the gestural movements of the figures, the added notion of emotions through the individual portrayal of expressions, and the emphatic use of color.

Poussin captures the portrayal of the biblical text from the Old Testaments Book of Exodus 12:3-11, and 17:3-7, depicting Moses with his people.  The Jewish people had been suffering under the Ten Plagues of Egypt.  After being freed from the power of the Pharaoh, they left Egypt in Exodus, traveling through the desert.  When it became intolerably  difficult, Moses asked for God’s help, to which God responded in the form of the showering down of manna from the heavens.  Poussin constructs his composition within a landscape setting as if it were a relief, packed with figures in gradation from the foreground, midway, and in the distance of the canvas.  A monumental rock formation, with an unusual triangular-shaped crevice is portrayed on the left, which leads ones eye into a blinding white light.  Centre-back, is a distant vision of mountains and more figures, signifying the hoards of people.  An overcast sky fills the remaining canvas above, with further hints of sunlight appearing through the clouds.

Moreover, Poussin’s working techniques were far different from those of his contemporaries.  Poussin was against the factory-type workshops of other Baroque artists, as he considered the process of transferring his own designs from the cartoon to the final painted image as an essential part of the creative process for any artist.  Therefore, Poussin’s preparatory drawings tend to be less finished than those of his contemporaries: the artist would sketch dozens of versions, with variations of lighting, poses and composition.  In order to aid himself in the preparatory work as he was envisaging his future masterpiece, Poussin utilized a most unusual invention: a tiny theatre-set, or shadow box.  Poussin would mold wax figures and place them in the box in front of a realistic background, like a stage set, and then, looking through the box, would make sketches.  In the first phase of this process, Poussin’s little wax figures were in the nude, to aid the artist in his depiction of the human anatomy. Then, as he would vary the position of the figures, Poussin would replace the little nude figures with larger ones clad in tissue robes and cloaks.  This working method most likely accounts to the stiff, theatrical figures in Poussin’s paintings as well as the often box- or theatre-like space.  Thus, Poussin’s style is utterly distinct in Baroque art and was enormously influential for the founding members of the Royal Academy, especially Charles Le Brun.

Poussin manages to individually codify the gestures within the composition, to fulfill the historic narration and its deeper meaning.  Moses is portrayed in a commanding gesture, with hand raised – reminiscent of Trajan’s column relief in portraying the Emperor in the ‘Adlocutio’ position.  The symbolism reflects the story of Moses preaching to his people and asking for help from God.  He stands beside a second figure in white robes – holding a gesture of prayer.

Towards the right of the canvas, we have the portrayal of two children fighting over a piece of manna, which could possibly refer to greed.  The female kneeled figure, with her back facing the spectator, points in the direction with her arm stretched out, drawing a diagonal line across thepicture surface.  In the mid foreground, below Moses, a crouched man assists an elderly man with hands raised up in gesture – possibly another portrayal of morality, as his helper signals with his outstretched arm towards the right, possibly on the look-out for his family members – beyond the trees in the background.  These gestures create diagonal and vertical lines within the actual structure of the composition, which allows for the reading of the images, as opposed to being drawn into the painting.  An interplay of vertical and horizontal gestural patterns assists the viewer in reading the story.  Poussin’s obsessively planned elements of his style; from the contour lines to color, are adopted from the ancient arts, High Renaissance, and philosophy as his inspiration.  The amount of theory and rational thought processes that informs Poussin’s paintings is what brought Poussin’s paintings to light into discussion during the conferences held within the chambers of the Royal Academy in Paris.

Moreover, Poussin, manages to unify the elements of individual gestures and expressions, allowing for variations of the ‘affetti’ as narrative.[10]

These variations assist in conveying the true moment as it is supposed to be, as the different acts of morality are being displayed within a society, along with sets of emotive elements conveying a distinction between a beginning, middle and an end to the overall meaning of the subject matter.  Poussin’s brave and daring portrayal of the triangular cluster: a scene where a mother is in the act of breast-feeding her own mother, whilst she takes care of her toddler besides her – is deeply moving.

Directly besides them, is the portrayal of a shadowed, seated figure half asleep, and is completely oblivious to the miracle taking place.  We as the viewer, can grasp the suffering before the miraculous event, to the confusion it has caused, to the rejoicing of the moment.

Poussin’s use of color too becomes constructed within the content of the composition, through contrast of light and shade.  Poussin rationally selects the primary colors of red and blue and repeats them within the composition to link specific figures on the picture surface.  In the foreground, from left, a tall figured man, dressed in red and blue fabric; his head is at equal height to that of Moses – drawing a diagonal line across, midway off-centre of the canvas, who so happens to also be wearing a red and blue toga -.  Furthermore, the white robed man in prayer besides Moses allows for a metaphoric link to the sharp white light through the crevice, and above in the clouds-to symbolize the divinely powers of God.  Poussin’s color palette is more austere, which reflects his ‘Dorian mode’ of theory, thus creating a stable, grave and severe ‘mood’ to elevate the historical subject matter.[11]

The overall effect allows the motion of the viewers’ eye to move across the canvas.  The narration of visual elements, unfold through the guided tools of the horizontals, diagonals and vertical lines, which interplay with the emphatic use of color, gestures and facial expressions.  An orchestrated symphony of line, color and reason form a sequence of eye movement: Moses raises his hand – to which, the white-robed man besides him reflect the white lit crevice and back to the foreground where the triangular cluster of figures are embraced with light – to the shaded patches of the foreground –onto the crouched female figure, who directs our eye with her stretched out arm back to the left, to where the old man who is being assisted – followed by the two children fighting about the manna.  The viewer becomes a participant through eye movement and ‘rational,’ which unfolds into a greater meaning.  The moment in history, capturing the before, midst, and relief of the Jewish people, in God’s miracle performed.  Poussin has the ability to enhance and elevate the historical event, to a level of a carefully planned methodology to convey a poetic invention or “concetti” disregarding the tradition of linear perspective, yet guided by his passion for the antiquity, the High Renaissance masters perfection and Poussin’s ‘reasoning’.

In 1648, J. Pointel commissioned Poussin to portray the “different types of beauty,” to which Poussin selected the subject of Rebecca and Eliezer, as recounted in Genesis 24.  Poussin portrayed the biblical scene, utilizing his intellectually planned grid of practical theories to convey the ideal beauty of the female form in Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well.  (fig. 2) 

Poussin gracefully personifies the ideal beauty of a woman, in the physical and moral form through his skillful balance in portraying the gestures, facial expression, and emphatic color references.  The clarity of the scene is reminiscent of an ancient frieze from the antiquity, and the gracious rendering of line as Raphael’s.  However, what unifies the work, is indeed Poussin’s ability of aesthetic reasoning.  There are elements that form binaries which are juxtaposed, yet are in complete harmony.  The feminine versus the masculine, the gracefulness of Rebecca and her watering vase against the ‘doric’ pier.  Furthermore, Sutherland Harris recounts Agnolo Firenzuola’s treatise ‘On the Beauty of Women’ (1548), where the ideal shape of a woman is described as “a vase with a narrow neck and a swelling body that suggests both a slim neck rising from her shoulders and the narrow waist and small bosom rising above the hips.”  Not to mention Bellori’s admiration of the two women to the left of Eliezer, where the one woman is so transfixed by the occasion, that her friend gracefully touches her hand in order for her not to spill the water.  An interesting contrast can be seen with the slouched, monumental female figure, whom stands before the heavy pier and its round globe towards the right of the picture plane-imitating her unlikely character of imperfection, as opposed to Rebecca.  Another interpretation was given by the Church fathers:  Rebecca prefiguring the Annunciation to the Virgin, and the Virgin, as metaphor for the church.  Poussin’s strong interest in stoic philosophy, combined with his immense knowledge of ancient scripts and draftsmanship, all culminate onto a two-

dimensional, rectangular picture plane.

After viewing these two paintings of Poussin, it is evident, that he renders his forms with a linear style giving life to the figures through a selection of color and expressive gestures, constructed on a rational grid of the past theories of the ancients and to the present theories of Poussin’s ‘rhetoric’; that so prominently unveils itself as a visual narration of history and intellect.  The value of incorporating these qualities is what became known as the ‘preceptes’ or axioms within the conferences held by the founding members of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture; as part of their instruction in the theory of art .

It is evident after viewing both paintings of the Israelites gathering manna in the Dessert, and Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well – Poussin’s choice in subject matter, and his artistic ability to orchestrate the elements as part of his creative process; evidently elevates history painting to its primacy; attracted the elite circles of Rome and primarily Paris.  It was Le Brun who was much sought after Poussin’s methodology as the foundation for teaching at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.  Moreover, Poussin managed to perfect his principles through rigorous compositions, avoiding true linear perspective, in favor of linear treatment of forms, less cluttering of figures, and a more subdued emphasis on the use of color and individual expressions.  Afterall, Poussin was considered the perfect painter by André Félibien (secretary of the Royal Academy – 1669), where he holds Poussin above Michelangelo as the artist of reference integral to academia.[12]  Furthermore, Charles Le Brun (Director of the Royal Academy – 1663) builds up on Poussin’s rules for art as gospel in declaring the Academy’s supremacy for Classical art and History painting within the Royal Academy of Art in France.

Le Brun’s praise for Poussin was his configuration of values within history painting, which undoubtedly proclaimed Poussin as the greatest contemporary French practitioner of history painting at the time of the foundation of the Academy.  Furthermore, Le Brun considered Poussin’s work to be held as the perfection, and not just of painting, but of the process of painting.  Duro quotes Oskar Bätschmann in a study he had made, “To his biographers and to the followers of electio Poussin appeared as the ideal embodiment of the selecting and reflecting artist” whose practice demonstrates a commitment of reason, a judicious selection of models drawn from antiquity, and the combination of theory and practice, as an “intellectual” Poussin’s paintings represents the status of exemplars.[13]

Besides Le Brun and Bätschmann’s praise, was also Félibien.  The latter being a student of Poussin in 1647 when he was secretary to the embassy of the marquis de Mareuil in Rome, and who subsequently devoted a section of his Entretiens to Poussin, demonstrating Poussin’s ideas on election (selection and discrimination).  With the idea of ‘selection’, is linked with Poussin’s disposition, or disposition of the elements of a painting, which form a composition.  Thus, in drawing reference to Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, Poussin arranges the scene into two fields, with Rebecca and Eliezer off centre (invention) and selects and refines (electio) material such as the different vases representing the ideal beauty within the dispositio (composition), thus also giving hierarchy not just to the genre, but also to the parts of the painting.

Furthermore, yet another hierarchy is created through the domination of line over color, along with the handling of paint, giving the picture a calm and cerebral surface.  Moreover, while the composition is orderly, coherent and reasonable, a perfect balance is created between the subject and execution of the painting.[14]

In 1666, the French Academy in Rome was founded, backed up by royal funds, thus accentuating the importance of Roman training was seen to be.[15]  Furthermore, Colbert who was in charge of the fine-art policy in 1665, first thought of offering the directorship of the Academy to Nicolas Poussin.  Unfortunately, Poussin died in November 1665.  Poussin was seen as “the greatest French artist” living in Rome, whom had exceptional talent, would in turn have exceptional qualities precisely for the very rules (precepts) that the Academy was arguing about in differentiating themselves from the guild masters.  Thereby, “Poussin’s painting came to be regarded as the ‘proof of a theory” within the value of his paintings. [16]

Albeit the praising, there were most certainly disputes amongst members, such as the famous debate of 1668 between Philippe de Champaigne and Charles Le Brun, questioning Poussin’s authority, for not depicting twelve camels in his painting Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, as it was stated in the Bible.  Le Brun responded that what mattered was the power of history painting to present an instructive narrative, and that “bizarre objects” (camels) serve only to distract the eye of the spectator.  What made the dispute difficult for Le Brun, was the fact that he was having to be challenged by the authority of the Bible, which was for Champaigne, “absolute dominion over the truth”.

Nicolas Poussin significantly influenced the institution of French art.  The teachings of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture were founded on the ideals of Poussin, which were adopted and utilized by Le Brun as the curriculum within the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.  His conception of the importance of drawing as the fundamental intellectual basis of painting was considered primary for the Academy.  Poussin’s artistic priorities about the supremacy of history painting were considered the official marker for placing value on the hierarchy of subject matter.  After having viewed two of his works, it is most evident that Poussin had learned spatial construction and organization from the Antiquity.  He had admired the ancient artists in their perfection, and like the great masters of the High Renaissance period, he too strove to equal the importance of that perfection.  We too notice the attention to the pattern of figures and forms on the planar line, as opposed to a finite line of recession into the canvas.  Hence, space is portrayed with the use of overlapping and atmospheric perspective rather than the strict use of one-point linear perspective.  Therefore, the eye is lead across the  picture plane rather than into it.  The figures are firmly grounded on the surface of the image.

The activity produced by strong vertical, diagonal and horizontal lines in the figures and structure, leads the eye around the surface of the canvas.

Furthermore, Academic art theory considered that this hierarchy was justified because it reflected the inherent moral force of each genre.  An artist could communicate a moral message much more clearly through a history picture, a portrait or a genre painting, rather than a landscape or still life.  In addition, the Greeks and the Italian Renaissance artists believed that the highest form of art was the pictorial representation of the human form, in figure sculpture, figure drawing and figure painting. Thus landscapes and still-life – which required no human figures – were viewed as lesser genres.  Lastly, the Academic ranking system reflected each category’s display value.  History painting was the largest and most suitable for public display, followed by portraiture, genre-works and landscapes, while still life canvases were typically the smallest and executed for domestic viewing.

To conclude my essay, I would like to present a visual and theoretical analysis of Poussin’s painting commissioned by J. Pointel, The Judgment of Solomon,  (fig. 3) 1649.

The story is recounted in the Old Testament, the first book of Kings 3:16-28.  Two prostitutes had been living  in the same house, and both had infant sons.  One of the mothers had accidentally smothered her baby while sleeping.  She then exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers.  Therefore, they both went to Solomon for a judgment to be made.  The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.  After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be drawn.  He declared that there is only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child.  Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Please, My Lord, give her the live child – do not kill him!”

However, the liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours – divide it!” Solomon instantly gave the live baby to the real mother, realizing that the true mother’s instincts were to protect her child, while the liar revealed that she did not truly love the child.

The reputation of the King greatly increased when all the people of Israel heard of his wise Judgment.

As Poussin once stated “read the story and the painting to find out if each thing is appropriate to the subject”, and that so long that, as the authority of the text is confirmed, not undermined, through its translation into painting.  This structuring principle, which it was mean to be judged, is its textual qualities expressed through the alphabet of gesture.

The composition is frieze-like, with a distinct division made between two groups on either side of the rectangular picture plane.  From left, we have a cluster of overlapping figures, of which two are the most prominent: the soldier with his sword drawn out with his one hand, and his other holding an infant in mid-air.  The other figure, is a woman on her knees, with hands and arms reached out in despair.  Moving towards the centre, we have two stern marble columns creating a niche for King Solomon and his throne.  Beneath Solomon’s throne, is a marble sculpted frieze.  Towards the far right, is the second cluster of figures overlapping which almost distort the true outlines of the figures.  Beneath the latter group of figures, is the second woman crouching, with a dead infant in her one arm and the other stretched out boldly across the marble frieze beneath Solomon.  A sense of balance and clarity distills the composition.  The vertical columns stand erect in contrast to the horizontal canvas and the picture surface.  On either side of the columns, are mirrored with two empty niches within a stage-like setting.  The only structured sense of depth available is the monumental columns, and the shallow gradations of the frieze and niches.

Poussin has arranged the figures in such a way, that a pyramid shape is formed: Solomon being the apex, guided by his arms and hands in the direction to both woman below.

Poussin’s theory of color were determined by two factors, firstly, that color is essential for setting the mood of a painting, and secondly, the relationship of color with light.  In The Judgment of Solomon, Poussin has selected the colors of red, blue, green and golden yellow repeatedly, within both the left and right spheres, yet in a rather discordant way in order to convey the feelings of rage, sorrow, and loss.

As with The Israelites Gathering Manna in the Desert, here, we have a mode of stoicism, enhancing the object of equality, balance and absolute clarity.  Poussin’s theory can be characterized by his careful selection of the tinted green tones of death and rage, as the signifiers for the guilty mothers facial tone, and her dead infant.  Her arm stretched out, is almost as white as the cold marble frieze behind her.  Solomon is boldly draped in crimson red fabric, which juxtaposes the white robe beneath, accentuating his power in judgment, between the two green tinted marble columns.

Poussin made use of a unique alphabet of gestural modes, inspired and selected with his passion for the ancient Roman and Greece relics.  Solomon, the King, is portrayed with both arms stretched out, hands expressed with wisdom.  His right hand pointed more firmly towards the real mother and her infant.  Both clusters on either side are framed with the soldier and his sword; the woman with the white turban acts as a mirrored buttress to the soldiers’ stance, and juxtaposed in drama to the bold columns in the centre.  A living sense of balance and justice is reveled throughout the composition, not just as a reflection of the subject matter, but for what it truly is.

Poussin paved a perfect platform, a grid of passion and intellect for which to train the future French artists of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Figure 1

Figure 1


Figure 2.jpg

Figure 2


Figure 3.jpg

Figure 3




Blunt, Anthony. “Poussin’s ‘Dance to the Music of Time’ Revealed.” The Burlington Magazine 118 (1976): 884-849. JSTOR. Amer. Coll. of Gr. Libraries, Athens, Gr.  24 Sep. 2010 <>

Blunt, Anthony. Nicolas Poussin. New York: Pantheon Books, 1967.

Duro, Paul. The Academy and the Limits of Painting in Seventeenth-Century France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Goldbarb, Hilliard T. “A Highly Important Poussin Acquisition and Chantelou’s Seven Sacraments Series.” The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 71 (1984): 290-299.  JSTOR. Amer. Coll. of Gr. Libraries, Athens, Gr.  24 Sep. 2010 <;

Friedlaender, Walter. Nicolas Poussin: A New Approach. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., Harrington, Henry R. “Anthony Powell, Nicolas Poussin, and the Structure of Time.”  Contemporary Literature 24 (1983): 430-448. JSTOR. Amer. Coll. of Gr. Libraries, Athens, Gr.  24 Sep. 2010 <;

Harris, Ann Sutherland. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture, Introduction.  New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.

Minor, Vernon Hyde. Baroque and Rococo: Art and Culture. Pearson: Prentice Hall, 2005.

Thompson, James. “Nicolas Poussin.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 50 (1992–93) 1-56. JSTOR. Amer. Coll. of Gr. Libraries, Athens, Gr.  24 Sep. 2010  <;

Wölfflin, Heinrich. Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Later Art. Dover: Dover Publications, Inc., 1950.



Figure 1

Nicolas Poussin: The Israelites Gathering Manna in the Desert, 1637-39, oil on canvas, 149 x 200 cm, commissioned by P. F. de Chantelou, Louvre Museum.  (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.


Figure 2

Nicolas Poussin: Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well. 1648, oil on canvas, 118 x 199 cm, commissioned by J. Pointel, Louvre Museum.  Photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource,



Figure 3

Nicolas Poussin: The Judgment of Solomon, 1649, oil on canvas, 101 x 150 cm, commissioned J. Pointel, Louvre Museum.  Photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, N.Y
Foot Notes:

[1] Paul Duro, The Academy and the Limits of Painting in Seventeenth-Century France, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997),16

[2] Paul Duro, 19.

[3] Paul Duro, 33.

[4] Friedlander, New Approach. 23.

[5] Paul Duro, 30.

[6] Paul Duro, 41.

[7] Albert Boime, The Teaching Reforms of 1863 and the Origins of Modernism in France, Art Quarterly, 1, (1978), 1-39 and Duro, 42.

[8]  Duro, 42. Testelin, Mémoires, I, 38-9.

[9]  Paul Duro, The Academy and the Limits of Painting in Seventeenth-Century France, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 44.

[10] Paul Duro, The Academy and the Limits of Painting in Seventeenth-Century France, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 122.

[11] Anthony Blunt, Nicolas Poussin,1967, 361-66 and the “modes letter,” 371-72.

[12] Paul Duro, 71-72.

[13] Paul Duro, 72.  Referring to Oskar Bätschmann’s Nicolas Dialectics of Painting, 20.

[14] Paul Duro, 74.

[15] Paul Duro, 51

[16] Paul Duro, 52.

(c) 2019 Demetrios Voulgarellis

Owner & Founder of O Live To Travel (Pty) Ltd.



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