Picture of the month

Nicolas Poussin, 'The Triumph of Pan', 1636

A tumbling, fumbling group of revelers intertwine in a swirling frieze of careless pleasure-seeking. Where does man end and beast begin?

Nicolas Poussin, 'The Triumph of Pan', 1636

Nicolas Poussin, 'The Triumph of Pan', 1636

A closer look reveals that some of these mythological creatures are both man and beast; satyrs, identifiable by their goat-like hairy legs and their hooves. The upturned urns suggest they have drunk their fair share of wine, and the deer on the shoulder of the yellow robed reveler will provide a feast to go with it.

Elsewhere pale nymphs dressed in flowing blue robes and riding goats reach out for flower garlands. These have been used to adorn the odd, red-faced statue with no arms at the centre of the group. Who is this character and why has he inspired such wild behaviour? Do the scattered objects in the foreground; theatrical masks and pan pipes, help us to discover more about this complex  painting?

Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin, The Triumph of Pan