Poussin's Parnassus

Poussin's Parnassus
Poussin's Parnassus

This large oil painting canvas was made by the French artist Nicolas Poussin between 1625 and 1629. And it is currently exhibited in the rooms of baroque painting of the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Poussin is within the baroque trend, one of the greatest exponents of the more classicist side of this style. And that is something that he manifested from his earliest works, as in this case. And of course, in Francia, the classicist line is the one that was most successful and liked throughout the 17th century.


Poussin's Parnassus

The paintings of Poussin have a classical air for many reasons. To start with the themes that he usually chooses, like here where he makes a mythological representation ofMount Parnassuswhere Apollo was with his muses. In fact, this work is sometimes referred to as:Apollo and his muses

But not only is it inspired by the classic for the theme, there are also pictorial elements with those origins. For example, he poses a very specific order to his scene, in which everything has a goal, since it is based on both geometry and optics. And despite that, he manages to give us the feeling of a very fanciful and somewhat chaotic composition. But quite the opposite.

The truth is that Nicolas Poussin, despite being one of thegreat painters of the European Baroquealways related his works to those of theRenaissance, especially with the paintings of the great Rafael. And even in this canvas the influence of the Parnassus fresco that Raphael himself painted in the Stanza della Signatura del Vatican is very clear. A work that he knew perfectly well, as Poussin spent time training in Rome, and even this work was painted there.

But it has other very interesting influences from the Renaissance period. One of them is Tiziano, whose color he naturally admires, but also certain elements of the image frame. For example, here the nude in the foreground may recall the one that appears in the Venetian painter's Bacchanal. Although it is true that Poussin is much colder on the bill than him.

That's because in a way, the French painter is a pure rationalist, an architect of the image. And that is why he studies it deeply until he finds the formula in which everything he wants to show must appear. For example, in Parnassus we not only see Apollo and the muses, but he has studied the entire space so that the great writers of the past can be seen such as Homer, Virgil, Horace, Dante, Petrarch, Ariostoand a new poet who is receiving the laurel wreath. In fact, all those characters are the equivalent of the columns and pillars that make up the painting.

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