Nicolas Poussin and roman Influences

Nicolas Poussin and Roman Influences in France

The city and art of Rome had an enormous impact on the French Baroque Classical artist Nicolas Poussin and through him an effect on French art and artists in the following centuries. Poussin was greatly influenced by the classical ideals of Italian art and flourished in the art-loving city of Rome that encouraged a young artist to explore his abilities. Nicolas Poussin spent a most of his productive artistic career in Rome and over half of his life in the ancient city. Though Poussin was a known, practicing artist before he spent any time in Rome, it has been said that his successful artistic career actually began with his arrival in the city. While there, he served many Roman patrons but was also increasingly sought after by French patrons. Because of this he was able to influence the tastes of French patrons which in turn heavily impacted the future of French art itself. Poussin subsequently influenced diverse French artists, as Anthony Blunt states in Nicolas Poussin: The A. W. Lectures in the Fine Arts:
"For Ingres, for instance, Poussin was a model of classical composition, surpassed only by Raphael and the Antique; Degas saw in him \'purity of drawing, breadth of modeling, and grandeur of composition\'; Cézanne aimed at revivifying Poussin\'s formal perfection by a renewed contact with nature; and the early Cubists saw in him the near-abstract qualities which they themselves sought." (Blunt, 1967)
Poussin also considerably affected the newly formed institutions of French art. The accepted teachings at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which was founded in 1648, were based upon Poussin\'s ideological values for art. His philosophy about the great importance of drawing as the crucial intellectual core of painting was a precept at the Academy. The new official stance on artistic value reflected Poussin\'s own artistic values and his belief in the superiority of history painting. Though in actuality many artist of the early eighteenth century followed his values more in belief than in actual practice, his influence is reemerges in artists like David and Ingres of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In this paper I will attempt to illustrate the notable and profound influence Rome had on the art of Nicolas Poussin and, through his work, the influence the city had on the varied development of French art (Russel, 1969)

Poussin\'s Early Life and Career:
Nicolas Poussin was born just outside Les Andelys in Normandy in the year 1594. Though his father had once been a soldier, his family was of the farmer peasant class. In spite of the modest means of his family, his parents struggled to give him a complete education in Latin and letters where he discovered at an early age his natural talent and interest for drawing. Close to the age of seventeen he met an artist by the name of Quentin Varin who had traveled to his hometown to paint altarpieces. Varin recognized the young Poussin\'s innate talent and greatly encouraged him to become a painter. So Poussin, at the young age of eighteen, ran away from his humble village to go to Paris (Russel, 1969). There in Paris, it is thought that he may have worked for a time with Quentin Varin, who was a Flemish painter, before working with a Flemish portraitist, Ferdinant Elle. Through these connections, Poussin was able to work with and befriend a number of Flemish painters while he was living in Paris. He also studied a bit while there, but his Parisian education did not inspire his imagination or challenge his abilities. He is said to have had very little regard for his French teachers, and claimed that the most important occurrence while there was an encounter with a courtier of Marie de Médicis by the name of Courtois. Courtois gave Poussin unlimited access to the vast royal art collections containing some of the great works of Raphael as well as many other talented Italian artists which immediately captivated Poussin. The result of his fascination with these works of art as well as his zest for the Italianate style can be found in his early work. It is at this time that Poussin began to discover a passion for classicism. He tried in vain twice