"The French Raphael"
French Romantic Baroque Painter
Cause of Death -The French Disease (syphilis)
Poussin is called "primitive" by his countrymen, the French; although the figures of his paintings reveal him as a cool composer, he looked upon nature with the eye of a primitive -- a kind of Mantegna of the seventeenth century, at the same time a scholar and realist. In the midst of the Baroque period, from the ruins of the antique world he created painting anew from the very foundations. In a convulsed epoch he alone maintained classic repose; in an age in which painting was pictorial he was "le peintre le plus sculpteur qui fut jamais." His youth was passed in bitter poverty, and when he as last trod the land of dreams he could never again part from the solemn Roman landscape. His life passed as simply as that of an Arcadian Shepard. In the day he labored in his workshop upon the hill of Santa Trinita de Monti, where he could enjoy a wide view of Campagna. A eventide he roamed with scholars and poets in the environs of the Eternal City' filled his mind with her landscape; brooded in the garden of the Villa Borghese over the primeval past; and made sketches of those gigantic trees which in his paintings rear their heads so majestically towards heaven. In his work there is nothing intimate, nothing homelike. Nature, as he depicts her, is a purely plastic, apparently soulless world. He sees only forms and lines; gazes upon the outlines of trees with the same eyes as does a sculptor upon the silhouette of a statue. But the grandeur of his line is such that it alone inspires his landscapes with a solemn sentiment. He created a world free from everything trivial and insignificant. These great, noble mountain ranges, these mighty trees and crystal seas are combined with simple antique buildings in compositions of classic rhythm. The figures also are attuned with the elements of nature to one great accord. --- Richard Muther, The History of Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896
Nicolas Poussin Quotation
"It is impossible to work at the same time upon frontispieces of books: a Virgin: at the picture for the congregation of St. Louis, at the designs for the gallery, and for the king's tapestry! I have only a feeble head, and am not aided by anyone!" -- Nicolas Poussin
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