Nicolas Poussin

Nicolas Poussin, 1594 to 1665, was the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style, although he spent most of his working life in Rome. His work is characterized by clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color. Until the 20th century he remained a major inspiration for such classically oriented artists as Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Paul Cézanne. He worked in Rome for a circle of leading collectors there and elsewhere, except for a short period when Cardinal Richelieu ordered him back to France to serve as First Painter to the King. Most of his works are history paintings of religious or mythological subjects that very often have a large landscape element. Louis XIII conferred on him the title of First Painter in Ordinary. In two years at Paris he produced several pictures for the royal chapels including The Last Supper painted for Versailles eight cartoons for the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, the series of the Labours of Hercules for the Louvre, the Triumph of Truth for Cardinal Richelieu, and much minor work. In 1642, disgusted by the intrigues of Simon Vouet, Fouquières and the architect Jacques Lemercier, Poussin withdrew to Rome. There, in 1648, he finished for de Chantelou the second series of the Seven Sacraments, and also his noble Landscape with Diogenes. This painting shows the philosopher discarding his last worldly possession, his cup, after watching a man drink water by cupping his hands. In 1649 he painted the Vision of St Paul  for the comic poet Paul Scarron, and in 1651 the Holy Family for the duc de Créquy. Year by year he continued to produce an enormous variety of works, many of which are included in the list given by Félibien. He suffered from declining health after 1650, and was troubled by a worsening tremor in his hand, evidence of which is apparent in his late drawings. He died in Rome on 19 November 1665 and was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, his wife having predeceased him. He left no children, but he adopted as his son Gaspard Dughet, his wife's brother, who became a painter and took the name of Poussin.
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