The Destruction of Poussin's Jerusalem Temple

The Destruction of Poussin's Jerusalem Temple
The Destruction of Poussin's Jerusalem Temple
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One of the greatest patrons of Baroque Rome was Cardinal Francesco Barberini, nephew of Pope Urban VIII, of whom He was also a close and faithful collaborator. Well, from that privileged position and as a good potentate of the time, he promoted endless works and commissioned many monuments, sculptures or paintings.

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The Destruction of Poussin's Jerusalem Temple

And one of those paintings was this one that he commissioned from the French painterNicola Poussin, who did it between 1638 and 1639 during his stay in the Italian capital. A painting depicting the moment when Roman Emperor Titus entered Jerusalem after a long siege. A victory that in Imperial Rome deserved the construction of the famous Arch of Titus.

A conquest that led to the total destruction of the city, as well as its mythical temple. And not only that, but he killed a large part of the population of the Holy City, and those who were not killed ended up as slaves. In other words, a whole drama that Poussin presents to us here in great detail, something that is undoubtedly very typical of his style, since one of the objectives of thisbaroque painter was to try to show, rather narrate, human life in all its aspects and endow his scenes with a great emotional charge. Something that can be seen in his other works such as The Plague of Ashdod or The Abductionof the junipers.

And really, the painter dwells on the details of this guy. We can appreciate all the cruelty of the bloody repression suffered by the Jewish rebels, and that Tito, portrayed on the back of his white horse, gave an express order that his legionnaires only kill people who were armed, something that was not fulfilled. And Poussin puts special emphasis on it, since from the close-up the corpses and even the heads of the decapitated are discovered.

Furthermore, we must add that the order comes from a high-ranking Christian official and therefore there must be a clear role for religious elements. For this reason, it is not surprising that the temple occupies a large part of the space and that even its presence, especially its imposing colonnade, frames the scene. With this background we see how the Roman legionnaires are appropriating the sacred objects.

In short, an episode with which Christians identify, being Jerusalem the cradle of their religion, although it is true that the taking of that city and the destruction of the legendary town is a fact much more remembered by Judaism, since for the Hebrews that event represents the beginning of the Jewish diaspora.

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