By investigating the important cultural figures who were close to the painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey allow the reader to enter not only the Rome where he lived but also the Rome of antiquity, which he admired and tried to reconstruct. The authors argue that Poussin's works were structured by his friendships, as well as by his study of ancient history and early Christian archaeology, his exploration of the poetry and mystery of ancient places, and his conception of his paintings as gifts rather than commercial objects. By looking into this rich background, they also show how Poussin introduced into his theory and practice of painting a new concept of the inherent expressiveness of form that was quite different from the then prevailing conventions for depicting the passions and affections.
The first two chapters treat Vincenzo Giustiniani, the most sophisticated patron and art collector of his day, whose purpose and rationale for collecting ancient sculpture deeply influenced Poussin and the Flemish sculptor Francois Duquesnoy. Among other topics, the succeeding sections take up Poussin's deep readings of Montaigne and his friendships with the poet Giovanni Battista Marino, with artists such as Pietro Testa and Matteo Zaccolini, and with patrons and true friends, among them Cassiano dal Pozzo and Paul Fréart de Chantelou, for whom Poussin painted a special self-portrait, which the artist said stood for "The Love of Painting and Friendship."
"Brilliant ... Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey, writing together as one, attempt to break the impasse between connoisseurship and iconographic analysis ... by moving the debate to broader themes of style and subject, and bringing them together into expressive interaction with each other."--Hugh Brigstocke, The Art Newspaper
"Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey have the great virtue of being unafraid to tackle the radical questions raised by Poussin's painting; in a field where heat is typically generated by wranglings over chronology and attribution, their Nicolas Poussin is a book of strong interpretations."--Norman Bryson, The Times Literary Supplement
"Excellent ... finely and amply produced.... Exploring the facets of Poussin's art in context, the authors reveal how genius translated complex circumstance into unequalled opportunity."--British Journal of Aesthetics
File created: 9/23/2014