poussin: willing into the trap of fantasy

In short, Poussin’s reason got him trapped in fantasy. His striving for legibility backfired: the pious Madame du Housset , who owned the Vergilian Shepherds of Arcady, had placed it in her chapel thinking it was an altarpiece. ….

Poussin had been caught at his own game, but only because he had played it so very seriously. Thereby he brought to light the contradictions latent in his procedure. And the very act of facing them honestly carried him beyond the limits before which other artists were brought up short. Poussin’s radicalism forced him to realize that action and thought were incompatible. Action is movement, a passing, an appearance; thought is stable, immobile, essential. A gesture, even rationalized and idealized, is not an eternal truth but an awkwardly frozen moment, a feeble attempt to capture “the in-between”. Hence Poussin now tries to reduce action to immobility. The canvas remains a stage, but it shrinks, and the actors become fewer.

Poussin. Rest During the Flight into Egypt. ---As much as he opposes the traditional German Idealists in their metaphysical elevation of self-consciousness (which he regarded as too intellectualistic), Schopenhauer stands within the spirit of this tradition, for he believes that the ultimate principle of the universe is likewise apprehensible through introspection, and that we can philosophically understand the world as various manifestations of this general principle. For Schopenhauer, however, this is not the principle of self-consciousness and rationally-infused will, but is rather what he calls simply “Will” — a mindless, aimless, non-rational urge at the foundation of our instinctual drives, and at the foundational being of everything. Schopenhauer's originality does not reside in his characterization of the world as Will, or as act — for we encounter this position in Fichte's philosophy — but in the conception of the Will as being devoid of rationality or intellect.--- Read More:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schopenhauer/

A new problem must now be solved: how to reconcile the old need for expression with the new demand for fixity. The answer is masks, which are both meaningful and motionless. The faces of the protagonists now seemed covered by plaster casts taken from ancient sculpture. Another answer consists in transforming the drama, in taking it from the physical to the interior, or psychological level. The limbs quiet down; the eyes become the sole instruments of action, and action gradually gives way to contemplation.

---The Holy Family on the Steps by Poussin We see again Joseph in the shadows writing. Joseph was a carpenter but many equate that with masons. Carpenters needed to know how to build and geometry. Again Mary's red dress symbolizing her bloodline and Joseph's red tunic is in the shadows. Matthew traces Jesus bloodline through Joseph and Luke's genealogy starts from Joseph and ends with Adam. When Joseph adopted Jesus as his legal son, Jesus became both David's direct descendent through David's son Nathan (Mary's side), and David's legal royal heir through Solomon (Joseph's side). The promise had been given to King David, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me” (2 Samuel 7:16). Poussin brings the Holy Family of Jesus on a bigger scale. He is showing the viewer that this family has many branches. We can only wonder if these brothers, sisters, and cousins had any children. It seems many were killed but who knows maybe their children did survive? Did the trees bear fruit?---Read More:http://www.ufodigest.com/article/poussin-and-flight-holy-family

Of course, much of this reflection brought Poussin back to the Greek philosophers and the issue of free will and the perception that we act as if there was free will. But how to pictorially represent an absence of free will beyond a reductionism to mathematics and geometry? …”all beginnings are involuntary.” “whether or not they exist, we are slaves to the gods” – Fernando Pessoa. So, the issue became, that if things in the world move toward goals,seen as fluid and variable coordinates, how does one explain an arrow  moving toward its goal except by the archer’s directing it. Hence, there must be an intelligent designer who orchestrates all things to their goals, and this is God. Though, if you ask the arrow it may respond that it is flying through the air because it likes to. ….”We are free to chose what we want, but we are not free to want what we want. That was Schopenhauer’s synthesis to explain the illusion of freedom of the will.” (Hune at  Martin Buber Dialogical Ecology )

Contemplation was the prime occupation of the Greek gods; and the Olympians were, along with the Holy Family, Poussin’s favorite subjects. For us, accustomed by contemporary painting to disregard subjects or at least to consider them as pretexts, it is, perhaps, not easy to realize their importance to the classic master. For him, they must be fully appropriate  to his aesthetic and moral preoccupations. His subjects are in every sense loaded. His choice of themes is as significant as are his abstentions . If the Old Testament themes give way little by little to New Testament ones, and if his Moseses are outnumbered by his Madonnas, it is because physical action prevails in the former, psychological nonaction in the latter.

---The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth (1651)Poussin Joseph in this painting is in the shadows wearing the red cloak representing Messianic bloodline. His cloak is not a bright as Mary's dress. It is Mary's bloodline that Poussin's seems to emphasize. Joseph's bloodline is the Messianic bloodline of David. Joseph is Jesus's adopted father because he marries the pregnant Mary. According to the Bible the Messiah will come from the bloodline of David which Joseph possesses but Jesus according to teachings is not of Joseph's DNA . Jesus does possess Mary's bloodline but is it the bloodline of David? Jesus father is God. Jesus according to the bible had brothers and sisters. The Holy family is barely talked about in the New Testament. Poussin brilliantly demonstrates that Jesus's family possibly was a bigger family.--- Read More:http://www.ufodigest.com/article/poussin-and-flight-holy-family

The growing concern with immobility finds a fitting outlet in the themes, so frequent in Poussin’s later years, of his Rest during the Flight Into Egypt and of The Holy Family, as it does in the unruffled serenity of his Olympians. Subject matter thus underscores the total reconcilement of aesthetics with religious belief and philosophic thought.

For the Hellenic deities do not in Poussin’s eyes conflict with god. To his syncretic mind, Christ might well have been the last of the Greek divinities, a latter day Apollo, as indeed He appears on the early Christian sarcophagi that Poussin could see in Rome.

---Poussin also studied a sixteenth-century commentary on the tale by Natalis Comes, which offers a meteorological interpretation. Accordingly he added Diana, standing upon the clouds that wreathe Orion's face, symbol of the power of the moon to gather the earth's vapors and turn them into rain. Toward the end of his life, Poussin scrutinized pebbles, moss, flowers, and plants, and his landscapes—such as this one, painted for Michel Passart in 1658—evoke the earth's early history in showing nature abundant and uncultivated. Source: Nicolas Poussin: Blind Orion Searching for the

ng Sun (24.45.1) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art---

This much is sure: Poussin took his gods seriously. His was, in Joshua Reynolds words, a man thrown back two millennia, “and as it were naturalized in antiquity.” For him, antiquity was no thing of the past. There are no ruins in his work. In Poussin’s day everybody invoked the ancients, as today everyone invokes democracy. Unlike that of his contemporaries, however, Poussin’s homage was no lip service. Where they saw but a convenient reservoir of mythological ornaments, he recognized pregnant myths.


The ontological argument has had a long and stormy history. It has appealed to some of the finest minds in Western history, usually mathematicians like Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. However, it fails to persuade most people, who seem to harbor the same suspicion as Kant that “the unconditioned necessity of a judgment does not form the absolute necessity of a thing.” That is, perfection may not be a true predicate and thus a proposition can be logically necessary without being true in fact. Read More:http://mb-soft.com/believe/text/argument.htm
It appears that Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is really not a design based on an “antique temple” – – it is one. A pagan illuminist temple in the heart of Virginia…the Virgin. The roman villa at Nimes visited by both Poussin , suspected Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, and Thomas Jefferson had the concept of beautiful girls imbedded in it as symbols of columns . Clearly, Monticello was placed where it was due to sacred geometry – the 23.5 of the Bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene more linked to the golden ratio, called the Divine Ratio or a code embedded by God himself in the creation of Nature – more .Read More:http://www.scoreboard-canada.com/babylon-goldenratiopoussincode.htm
Adding to this, Schopenhauer concludes in The World as Will and Representation that we create the violent state of nature, for he maintains that the individuation that we impose upon things, is imposed upon a blind striving energy that, once it becomes individuated and objectified, turns against itself, consumes itself, and does violence to itself. His paradigm image is of the bulldog-ant of Australia, which when cut in half, struggles in a battle to the death between its head and tail. Our very quest for scientific and practical knowledge creates a world that feasts upon itself.

This marks the origin of Schopenhauer’s renowned pessimism: he claims that as individuals, we are the unfortunate products of our own epistemological making, and that within the world of appearances that we structure, we are fated to fight with other individuals, and to want more than we can ever have. On Schopenhauer’s view, the world of daily life is essentially violent and frustrating; it is a world that, as long as our consciousness remains at that level where the principle of sufficient reason applies in its fourfold root, will never resolve itself into a condition of greater tranquillity. As he explicitly states, daily life “is suffering” and to express this, he employs images of frustration taken from classical Greek mythology, such as those of Tantalus and the Danaids, along with the suffering of Ixion on the ever-spinning wheel of fire. Read More:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schopenhauer/

This entry was posted in Art History/Antiquity/Anthropology, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>