Et in Arcadia ego de Poussin

Et in Arcadia ego de Poussin
Et in Arcadia ego de Poussin

This work is probably the most emblematic within the pictorial production of the French painter Nicolás Poussin (1594 – 1665). Without a doubt, the most academic author within French baroque painting. And this painting that he made in 1638 can now be seen in the rooms of theLouvre Museum in Paris

Et in Arcadia ego by Poussin

Et in Arcadia ego de Poussin

Despite his French origin, the truth is that Poussin madeRomehis adoptive homeland, both to live in and to inspire his art. There he especially dedicated himself to studying ancient art, and more specifically theRoman sculptures

That contemplation of the sculptures of Ancient Rome is perfectly recognizable in this work of his en titled Et in Arcadia Ego. We see in the image a peaceful landscape typical of southern Europe, and in it are some strong and beautiful young characters contemplating a large stone tomb. These characters represent shepherds, since they are identified by their clothes and the typical crooks of their trade, although their dress also has a lot to do with the clothing of Antiquity.

Well, these shepherds bend down and approach the tomb to try to read and understand the inscription on the tombstone. Two of the shepherds point it out to us, while one of them turns to the only woman in the group,also dressed in the ancient way, and showing a very melancholic pose.

We can also read the inscription on the grave. The title of the painting is written on it, which translated from Latin means “I am also in Arcadia”. And what is the Arcadia? Well, mythologically it was a legendary idyllic region for shepherds. And the meaning is that death is also in that kind of pastoral paradise.

With that meaning the scene is understood. Some characters that transmit a sense of amazement while contemplating that tomb. They also completely frame the grave with their poses.

Everything seems to have a fairly simple composition, in contrast to other baroqueworks that are much more hectic. But it is of a simplicity based on an extraordinary pictorial mastery on the part of Poussin. A simplicity that serves to evoke a nostalgic vision of the future rest that death represents, which is stripped of any meaning related to loss, pain or horror. This is helped by the postures of the characters, their gestures and how they relate to each other with their looks, all of an exquisite beauty typical of the style of this French artist.

In fact, that air of nostalgia and reminiscence towards Latinmythological artappears in many of his other works, such as The Dance of Time. And it was even very common in the paintings painted by another contemporary French artist who had also settled in Italy tostudy and pay homage to the art of Antiquity: Claude Lorrain, author of paintings such as Embarkation at Ostia by Santa Paula Romana.

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