Nicolas Poussin

1594 - 1665
Poussin, Nicolas
Nicolas Poussin, 'Self Portrait'
Paris, Musée du Louvre
© RMN, Paris

Nicolas Poussin was born at Les Andelys in Normandy and first trained in Rouen. From 1612 he lived in Paris and in 1624 travelled via Venice to Rome, where he stayed for most of his life.

His sensuous early canvases such as 'The Nurture of Bacchus', reflect 16th-century Venetian art, especially that of Titian. He studied antique remains and his art reflects both this and an appreciation of Raphael. Poussin read ancient writers such as Ovid and attempted to recreate ancient myth and history in his works.

Poussin mainly painted easel paintings for private patrons. His larger works for Louis XIII, made from 1640 to 1642 on his return to Paris, were less successful. His scholarly patrons in Rome and Paris included Cassiano dal Pozzo and the notable art collector, Cardinal Richelieu.

Poussin sketched in the Campagna, the countryside around Rome, with Claude, and from the late 1630s began to paint landscapes. He brought a powerful discipline to the composition of his paintings, which enhanced the solemnity of their subjects. In his later years he developed an intensely personal style in his religious and allegorical works.