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NicolasPoussin

 

Nicolas Poussin (French: [nikɔlɑ pusɛ̃]; June 1594 – 19 November 1665) was the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style, although he spent most of his working life in Rome. Most of his works were on religious and mythological subjects painted for a small group of Italian and French collectors. He returned to Paris for a brief period to serve as First Painter to the King under Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu, but soon returned to Rome and resumed his more traditional themes. In his later years he gave growing prominence to the landscapes in his pictures. 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.
Nicolas Poussin's early biographer was his friend Giovanni Pietro Bellori, who relates that Poussin was born near Les Andelys in Normandy and that he received an education that included some Latin, which would stand him in good stead. Another early friend and biographer, André Félibien, reported that "He was busy without cease filling his sketchbooks with an infinite number of different figures which only his imagination could produce." His early sketches attracted the notice of Quentin Varin, who passed some time in Andelys, but there is no mention by his biographers that he had a formal training in Varin's studio, though his later works showed the influence of Varin, particularly by their storytelling, accuracy of facial expression, finely-painted drapery and rich colors. His parents apparently opposed a painting career for him, and In or around 1612, at the age of eighteen, he ran away to Paris.
He arrived in Paris during the regency of Marie de Medici, when art was flourishing as a result of the royal commissions given by Marie de Medici for the decoration of her palace, and by the rise of wealthy Paris merchants who bought art. There was also a substantial market for paintings in the redecoration of churches outside Paris destroyed during the French Wars of Religion, which had recently ended, and for the numerous convents in Paris and other cities. However, Poussin was not a member of the powerful guild of master painters and sculptors, which had a monopoly on most art commissions and brought lawsuits against outsiders like Poussin who tried to break into the profession.
His early sketches gained him a place in the studios of established painters. He worked for three months in the studio of the Flemish painter Ferdinand Elle, who painted almost exclusively portraits, a genre that was of little interest to Poussin. He moved next to the studio of Georges Lallemand, but Lallemand's inattention to precise drawing and the articulation of his figures apparently displeased Poussin. However, Poussin did not fit well into the studio system, where several painters worked on the same painting. Thereafter he preferred to work very slowly and alone. Little is known of his life in Paris at this time. Court records show that he ran up considerable debts, which he was unable to pay. He studied anatomy and perspective, but the most important event of his first residence in Paris was his discovery of the royal art collections, thanks to his friendship with Alexandre Courtois, the valet de chambre of Marie de Medicis. There he saw for the first time engravings of the works of Giulio Romano and especially of Raphael, whose work had an enormrous influence on his future style.
He first tried to travel to Rome in 1617 or 1618, but made it only as far as Florence, where, as his friend and biographer Bellori reported, "as a result of some sort of accident, he returned to France." On his return, he began making paintings for Paris churches and convents. In 1622 made another attempt to go to Rome, but went only as far as Lyon before returning. In the summer of the same year, he received his first important commission: the Order of Jesuits requested a series of six large paintings to honor the canonization of their founder, Saint Francis Xavier. The originality and energy of these paintings (since lost) brought him a series of important commissions.
Giambattista Marino, the court poet to Marie de Medici, employed him to make a series of fifteen drawings, eleven illustrating Ovid's Metamorphoses and four illustrating battle scenes from Roman history. The "Marino drawings", now at Windsor Castle, are among the earliest identifiable works of Poussin. Marino's influence led to a commission for some decoration of Marie de Medici's residence, the Luxembourg Palace, then a commission from the first Archbishop of Paris, Jean-François de Gondi, for a painting of the death of the Virgin (since lost) for the Archibishop's family chapel at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. Marino took him into his household, and, when he returned to Rome in 1623, invited Poussin to join him. Poussin remained in Paris to finish his earlier commissions, then arrived to Rome in the spring of 1624.

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