poussin the golden: divine means of abstract geometrical truth

He tried to live in France from 1640-42, called back by King Louis XIII and the urging of Cardinal Richelieu who felt it imperative that France had greater artistic luster.Claude Lorrain was also compelled to return. Poussin had been appointed official First Panter which essentially meant chief decorator and supervisor of royal pomp. But Poussin could not fit into such a scheme, no matter how grand and he could not get used to the colder weather accustomed as he was to Rome. Essentially, he wanted to be commissioned and not commanded. And he did not like painting on a large scale such as the walls of a palace or church, where his will had to bend before an overall plan.

The Confirmation. They are inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses, ancient history, certain stories from the Old Testament, and—late in his career—the seven Sacraments (The Confirmation, from the series of The Seven Sacraments, Collection of the Duke of Rutland, Belvoir Castle) conceived within the early Christian church. Toward the end of his life, he would create a group of transcendent landscapes with Stoical themes, including four paintings representing the Seasons, now in the Louvre, Paris. All of these subjects he painted with extraordinary empathy and near-identification. Although they might suggest conflicting systems of belief—Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Stoic, Pantheistic—Poussin seems to have taken on each type of narrative as an even-handed, respectful interpreter, representing each as a product of human culture and history and of our essential need to create order out of what might seem chaos. These pictures appear to be about "faith" as a phenomenon as much as they are about a particular faith. Source: Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Poussin’s preference ran to the relatively small sized easel painting , executed in the isolation of his studio, which collectors could then purchase. Within the limited expanse of easel painting, the truths Poussin wished to render suffered least from dilution. Poussin went back to Rome because Paris wanted to strip the cornice off his pictorial universe.

Once again he resumed the routine which he was to keep until shortly before his death, on November 19,1665: rising early; walking an hour or two, usually on the Pincio, surrounded by acquaintances who listened attentively to his pronouncements on art; working till evening, when he would go out again and mingle with the people conversing on the Piazza di Spagna. His fame by now was immense. His paintings brought the highest prices in Rome, and at that, would be buyers had to wait for two years.

---The Holy Family has fled to Egypt to escape Herod's edict of killing the "first born". We see John the Baptist and Jesus as babies unable to walk. We see older reddish blonde hair children who can walk. All the children has a family resemblance. Poussin shows us a boy but the other children could be either sex. Joseph stands in the back covered with a red robe symbolizing blood red and the Royal bloodline of David. ... The children could represent the Zebedee cousins of Jesus. Poussin is showing that Jesus has a family. He has aunts, uncles, and cousins. The Holy family fled to Egypt.---Read More:http://www.ufodigest.com/article/poussin-and-flight-holy-family

Yet Poussin lived with a simplicity worthy of the ancient stoics whose philosophy increasingly preoccupied him. To a Roman prelate who pitied him for not having even a single servant, he apparently replied, “it is I who pity you, Monsignor, for having many.” He might have lived royally by painting, -Like Rubens with his many assistants and prodigious production- but he chose to live humbly for it. Nothing could distract him from the perfecting of his art, which acquired an ever more rigorous gravity as it shifted from violent, human action to immobile, Olympian contemplation.

Indeed, the gods are our best guides to the comprehension of this change. Of them Aristotle wrote, “all that concerns action can only seem petty and unworthy.” They embody absolute virtue, pure essences, eternal being and so engage only in contemplation- theoria- as the Greeks named it, of the order that governs all things and beings. For the Greeks, this order, or “kosmos” was mathematical: contemplation was, in every sense, theoretical. What gave consistency to worldly appearances and actions was the underlying essences and their relations: mathematical figures and rhythms. Break open the Golden Apple; inside it, you will find the Golden Section.

---Less severe than the Landscape with Pyramus and Thisbe is the Landscape with Orpheus and Euridice in the Louvre. Here the artist was dealing with a much less solemn subject, but even so the forms are rather hard. The whole has the feeling of having been put together in pieces like a jig-saw puzzle, rather than composed as a single entity as was the Diogenes, surely one of the most perfectly ordered but naturalistic landscapes ever painted.---http://hoocher.com/Nicolas_Poussin/Nicolas_Poussin.htm

Such precisely, is the road followed by Poussin in his radicalism: pure action led him to pure reason, and storytelling to geometrical statement. Such drawings show that he could rival Mondrian in his quest for abstract geometrical truth. And while the time in which he lived prevented him from aspiring overtly toward a solution so extreme in his paintings, he reaches the brink of it by infinitely subtle means in pictures such as The Confirmation, which leave our eye to face a symphony of hieratic forms., essential lines, and contrapuntal rhythms.

---The Louvre painting, monumental and silent, shows a more relaxed group around the tomb who, instead of reacting dramatically, seem to be pondering the meaning of the inscription. Here Poussin does not portray the simple carefree shepherds who are supposed to inhabit Arcadia, but instead classically formed, sober and dignified figures from antiquity. Indeed the young woman, standing erect to the right of the symmetrical group and slightly in the foreground, manifests the classical ideal with smooth brow, fine nose, elegant proportions and statuesque bearing. The skull is gone, so who now pronounces ET IN ARCADIA EGO ? The historian Panofsky suggests a change in interpretation of the subject, stating: "The Louvre painting no longer represents a dramatic encounter with Death, but a contemplative meditation on the idea of mortality." Claude Lévi-Strauss has recently suggested, rather than the inversion of the normal Latin formula, as stated by Panofsky, that it is the so static girl who represents Death or Destiny. In this sense it is she who pronounces the fateful words, suggested to us by the young shepherd on the right who turns to face her whilst pointing to the inscription.--- Read More:http://donbarone.selfip.net/Poussin%20Thumbs%203.htm

In such canvases Poussin carries out better than Gauguin himself Gauguin’s program: arrangements of lines and colors, using as a pretext some subject borrowed from human life or nature which represent

ing real in the vulgar sense of the word and which express no idea directly. In other words to make you think without ideas or images and only by the relationships that exist between our brains and arrangements of colors and lines. This is probably what Bernini meant when, gazing at The Confirmation, he said, “What Silence!” Poussin had come a long way indeed from “talking painting.”

Read More:http://www.thearttribune.com/Poussin-and-Research-A-scholar-day.html

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