Neoclassicism; Nicolas Poussin Essay

Submitted By acupcake101
Words: 1200
Pages: 5

What Is Neoclassicism?

Emerged in France as an established movement

...It is a name given to a distinctive movement pertaining to the visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture This movement was dominant in northern Europe during the mid-18th century through the end of the 19th century.

...It grew in a response against the style of Rococo, which was disliked by many due to the one sided emphasis on upper status people and thus appealing to the wealthy and powerful.
Neoclassical artists wanted to recapture the dignity and simplicity of the classical style of ancient Greece and Rome.

It can be characterized as having: shallow space, clarity of form, sober colors, and “strong horizontal and verticals that renders that subject matter timeless”

• Nicolas Poussin was born on July 1594 in Les
Andelys, Normandy. He founded the French
Classical tradition. Nicolas specialized in history paintings that reflected ancient mythology, history and the Bible.
• Nicolas was considered the greatest of living painters by his contemporaries.

• ...His work features logic, order and favors
“line over color”
• Poussin spent most of his “working life” in
Rome (except for a short period when Cardinal
Richelieu ordered him back to France, as First
Painter to the King)
• He adopted much of his ideas from history

How did Neoclassicism & Poussin contribute to art in 18th century?

Following the reaction against Baroque and
Rococo styles, came the desire to return to
“purity”, the arts and history of Rome, and the perception of Greek arts.

This helped bring back the ideas of history as well as religious zeal into the lives of many who were in support of many neoclassic artists.

Many embraced the new style of colors, lines, contour, and “true exploration of the mind” •

Neoclassicism also became popular as aristocracy loses power in the revolutions

Pieces of Art
By Poussin

“The Romans invited the neighboring Sabines with the intention of forcibly retaining their women as wives.”
Romulus signalized the men to seize the women ( the raising of his cloak)

“The Abduction of the Sabine Women”

(around 1633-34)

Type: Oil on Canvas

This painting shows Poussin’s “profound allegiance to antiquity, but it also epitomized Poussin’s style of intellect.”

This was in response what he “regarded as the excesses of the High Baroque”

This painting connects to the work being produced during the 18th century (specifically Neoclassicism) due to the objects in the painting being sharply defined as well as sharp contouring. This can be seen in the faces of the Romans as well as the
Sabines: including their body movements as well as the textures within their clothing and objects placed in the scene(including horizontal composition).

By Poussin

Poussin drew on the greek writer
Lucian: “Orion who is blind, is carrying
Cedalion, and the latter, riding on his back, is showing him the way to the sunset. The rising sun is healing [his] blindness” •

“Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun”


Type: Oil on Canvas

Nicolas also studied the 16th century work of
Natalis Comes that affords a “meteorological interpretation” Therefore, he added Diana, standing on the clouds that surround Orion’s face.
(symbolizing the power of the moon to “ gather the earth’s vapors and turn them to rain” )

Poussin exemplified order and geometric shaping in much of his work including this one. Also including well portrayed composition, lines, placement regarding horizontal lines, color as well as the idea classical ideas that were portrayed during the movement of Neoclassicism.

By Poussin

The painting has a Biblical reference, pertaining to the “Flight into Egypt” recored by Matthew (2:1315) After the birth of Jesus, an angel came to
Joseph (the husband of the Virgin Mary) in a dream and ordered him "to take the young child and his mother, and flee to Egypt...”going to Following