The Wallace Collection

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Nicolas Poussin (1594 - 1665)
  • Place of Birth: Les Andelys, Normandy, France
  • Place of Death: Rome, Italy
Works of Art

Born in 1594 at Les Andelys (Normandy). After receiving his first training in Rouen with Noël Jouvenet, he came to Paris in 1612 where he worked briefly under Ferdinand Elle and Georges Lallemant and discovered antique sculpture, Italian paintings, and engravings after Raphael and Giulio Romano. In 1624, having spent some months in Venice, he arrived in Rome.

His Ovidian mythologies and Bacchanals of the late 1620s and early 1630s reflect his admiration of Titian, but he also renewed his study of the antique and Raphael and admired the Carracci and Domenichino. In 1627 he received his first important commission from Cardinal Francesco Barberini (The Death of Germanicus, Minneapolis) and, through the same patron, he painted The Martyrdom of S. Erasmus for St. Peter's in 1628-9. From c.1630 he became involved with an intellectual circle around Barberini's secretary, Cassiano dal Pozzo, whose learned antiquarianism influenced him profoundly (The Seven Sacraments, Belvoir Castle and Washington, 1636-42).

In 1640, on the summons of Louis XIII, he returned to Paris where the official commissions he received (for example, the ceiling of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre) were unsuited to his temperament. He returned to Rome in 1642 and remained there for the rest of his life, working predominantly for a group of essentially middle-class patrons in France. He died in Rome on 9 November 1665.