Nicolas Poussin, Les Andelys 1594 - 1655 Rome
Nicolas Poussin ranked among the foremost artists of seventeenth-century Rome, whose intellectually sophisticated approach to the classical tradition set his work distinctly apart from the Baroque exuberance that dominated his era. Born in Normandy, the young Poussin set out for Rome, arriving there in 1624. Around 1627 he met the antiquarian collector Cassiano dal Pozzo, who became his most important Italian patron and a close friend. In Italy and for a brief period in Paris between 1640 and 1642, Poussin specialized in easel paintings for discriminating private collectors, including the French king’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, and the discerning connoisseur Paul Fréart de Chantelou. Inspired by the antique past as well as by the classical refinement of Raphael, Poussin painted subjects from literature, the Bible, and history with great sensitivity to narrative and an increasingly restrained manner, culminating in the grandeur and austerity of his late style. Throughout the 1640s his interest in landscape painting grew, resulting in splendid and idealized paeans to the power of nature which dominated the genre for the next two centuries. Indeed, for his supreme rationalism and resolute classicism, which underpin the whole of the academic tradition in art, he was venerated in his own time and long after his death as one of the greatest artists of his age.