Nicolas Poussin

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Nicolas Poussin


Pictori philosopho (Blunt, 3), "Painter-philosopher" was a name given to Nicolas Poussin by Serous d' Agincourt in 1782. Agincourt later found out that the name Pictori philosopho had already been given to the German artist Anton Raphael Mengas.

Nicolas Poussin was born in 1594 in the town of Les Andelys on the Seine. He came from a nobel family that was ruined by religious wars according to Giovanni Pietro Bellori. No actual proof of this has been established his father Jean Poussin was said to have had some descent of the hierarchy. His mother was the daughter of an alderman. His father served in the military under the command of Charles IX, Henry III, and Henry IV were he came home with a small holding and led the life of a peasent. Education in Les Andelys was not that of high caliber top notch schooling, but early biographers report that Poussin learned Latin. The visit of a painter to Les Andelys by the name of Quentin Varin greatly affected Poussin in the early years of his life. The affect of Varin's short visit to Les Andelys so greatly affected Poussin that he left home that same year.

"He crept secretly out of the house without the knowledge of his parents."(Blunt, 13)

Upon departure of his home in Les Andelys he traveled to the province capital of Rouen. Once in Rouen he studied for several years under Noel Jouvenet who lived in Rouen at the time. According to biographer Bellori, Poussin arrived in Paris, France in the year 1612, at the latest 1613.

There is not much information on the time of Poussin's life that he left Rouen and the time that he arrived in Paris. Once in Paris he met a man from Poitou who offered his home to Poussin and treated him with great kindness. Poussin was set to decorate his chateau, but due to the interference of a mother-in-law the project was hung out to dry. This left Poussin,

"The young artist found himself without money and three hundred miles from Paris." (Blunt, 13)

He then began the long trek to Paris on foot; he supported himself by painting in small towns that he passed through. He arrived in Paris so ill that he returned to Les Andelys, where he spent a year recovering from his illness. After a years rest Poussin returned to Paris where he built a name for himself as a reputable artist. He made many friends who helped him get started on the road to success. Before the end of 1623 Poussin finally left Paris insight of a new start in a new city. At the age of thirty Poussin left Paris for Rome, Italy.

Poussin arrived at his destination in March of 1624. During his journey he made a short stop in Venice. In Rome Poussin met painter Marcello Sacchetti on of the active patrons of the arts in Rome. During his first couple of years in Rome Poussin stayed in various homes. In 1629 he took shelter with Jacques Dughet, a French cook, and his family. Jacques and his family took care of Poussin when he suffered from what is called ‘mal di Francia.'(Blunt, 55) After several years were spent recovering from his illness Jacques gave his daughter Anne Marie to Poussin in marriage. The ceremony toke place on September 1, 1630 in the city of Lucina. Jacques Dughet had two sons named Gaspard and Jean, who were artist and worked under the supervision of their brother-in-law. Gaspard was so inspired by Poussin that in the later years of his life he took the name of his great teacher Gaspard Poussin.

During this time Poussin kept company with many painters who he was to keep a close friend ship for many years. He lived close to many painters and sculptors of the time. Among these was Jean Lemaire, who later worked with Poussin on the execution of the Long Gallery in the Louvre from 1640 to 1642. While in Rome Poussin dressed as a Frenchman, until hostile Romans attacked him due to the anti-French sentiment at the time. He saved his hand by blocking a blow with a portfolio he was carrying. This...
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