Rational, solemn, elegant and sublime

  The rise of French painting directly and indirectly inherits the excellent tradition of Italy. No matter what school of painting French painters belong to, they are inextricably linked with Italian painting art. Nicolas Poussin, Simon Vouet, etc. are painters who draw nourishment from the colors of the Venetian school and the shapes of the Italian Roman school. In recent history, Paris became the center of world art because of Napoleon’s expeditions. But before that, it was thanks to the efforts of the great classicist Poussin that authentic classical art took root in Paris. Therefore, the origin of modern French painting generally takes Poussin as the ancestor.
  The exploration of early
  art Nicolas Poussin, the greatest painter in the French painting circle in the 17th century, the pioneer of French classical art, if the French national painting was formed in the 17th century, then Poussin can be called “the father of French painting”. “.
  On June 15, 1594, Nicolas Poussin was born in the town of Andry, Normandy, France. As a teenager, Poussin became fascinated with painting, which his father considered to be unprofessional. The initial infatuation did not allow the young Poussin to learn any painting skills. In the remote town, no one could even teach him to learn to paint. However, at the age of 18, a painter came to the town church. The non-local painter Quentin Valien let him really see the world and know what real painting is, and it also strengthened his determination to learn painting. Soon after that, he secretly came to the capital Paris behind his parents, ready to realize his art dream.
  After arriving in Paris, he first entered the studio of Dinant Eyre to study painting, and he also studied hard in literature. He was familiar with everything from ancient Roman poetry to Dante in the Renaissance. In addition, he also studied the mathematics of Pythagoras and the anatomy and perspective of Leonardo da Vinci. Diligent study and hard work finally paid off. In 1621, he was invited to paint frescoes for the Luxembourg Palace. In 1623, when he was 29 years old, he painted “St. Mary’s Sleep” for Notre Dame de Paris, which was well received for its clear style and elegance. He was humble and eager to learn, made friends widely, and became a close friend of the famous Italian poet Marino. In 1622, he made sketches and illustrations for his poem “Adonis”, which made him famous. Marino’s artistic conception also influenced Poussin, who made up his mind to move to Rome.
  The establishment of the classical style In the
  spring of 1624, the 30-year-old painter Poussin finally left Paris and came to Rome, which was a turning point in his artistic career. As soon as the accommodation was arranged, he began to study Renaissance painting voraciously, forgetting to sleep and eat. When he first arrived in Rome, Poussin, a young foreigner, did not attract the attention of the Italians at all. His paintings could not be sold at all, and the two magnificent war paintings were only exchanged for poor living expenses. Poverty and discrimination made him deeply feel the loneliness of a foreign land, but the ruins and ruins of Rome made him forget all his troubles. Sometimes, in order to appreciate the works of the masters up close, they don’t hesitate to bribe the housekeepers of the collectors with money, so that they can enter the house of the owner when he is not at home, and stand in front of the painting and ponder. Later he became acquainted with Alexandre Courtois, who was in charge of keeping the king’s art treasures, and this person provided Poussin with the opportunity to see many works of art around the world. The famous writer Balzac also described Poussin’s twists and turns in Paris in his short story “Mysterious Masterpiece”.
  He was first praised by Roman literati not for painting but for his proficiency in Latin, which greatly facilitated and helped the development of his art. In 1628, Poussin had basically mastered the artistic skills of the Romans, and he obtained an important piece by virtue of his own level, that is, an altarpiece of the famous St. Peter’s Basilica. However, despite his best efforts, the works were still not satisfied with the orderers, and for his artistic career, he never showed his talents in churches and public buildings in Rome. But Poussin was not frustrated by it. He turned his attention to the creation of small paintings, especially painting rooms for some famous collectors. In this way, his mural creation completed a successful transformation – by Public spaces moved to private spaces.
  Poussin’s style was very different from that of Rome at the time. He was the first to draw inspiration from the masters of the Venetian school, especially Titian, which can be seen in the paintings of 1630, which are rich in color, golden light, and athletic like a strong body, and The free and relaxed picture processing was obviously greatly influenced by Titian, because some of Titian’s original works can be seen in Rome at that time. But the superficial resemblance does not mean the closeness of the soul. In Poussin’s classical and idyllic atmosphere, Titian’s wildness and vitality are completely absent.
  During his 16 years in Rome, Poussin eagerly studied the ideas, theories and works of Italian Renaissance masters, and he studied the techniques of Raphael and Dürer. He loves ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, his figures are full of volume, the composition is symmetrical and complete, and he observes nature in great detail. He was well versed in the poetry, mathematics, anatomy and perspective of the Renaissance masters, and his erudition laid the foundation for his later classical artistic creation that emphasized rationality. He gradually established a classical style of painting and became interested in the colors of the Venetian Titian. In this environment, Poussin gradually conceived a classical art principle with ancient Greece and ancient Rome as models.
  ”The Inspiration of Poets” (in the Louvre Collection) marks the formation of his artistic style, showing his romantic classical temperament, he has long lost interest in the joyful idyllic scenes, and replaced it with reflections on the quiet art world. The composition of this work is stable, the rigorous and dignified shape and the color treatment of the large flat paint, resulting in a rare sense of great and solemn silence, which has the characteristics of classical idealism.
  In the center of the work sits the mythical Apollo. He is a robust young shepherd wearing a laurel crown, a memorial to his failed pursuit of the goddess Daphne. Apollo fell in love with Daphne, and Daphne turned into a laurel tree. Apollo plucked the laurel branches and leaves into a laurel crown as a memory. In his right hand he also held a lyre obtained from Hermes, the messenger of the gods, and he was ordering Euterpe to write down the verses that inspired him. The latter seemed to have realized something and was looking up at the sky. Angels and another muse surround him, looking forward to Apollo’s gushing inspiration. Apollo is the god of light, youth, medicine, animal husbandry, music and poetry. The god Muses also often accompanied him. Poussin’s depiction of these figures as symbols of poetry and music is precisely the ideological expression of his worship of classical art. The unity of heroism and lyricism constitutes the only starting point of Poussin’s artistic creation.
  The banner of classicism
  Poussin 10-year period from the age of 36 to 46 was the flourishing period of his creation. It is said that during this period, he often traveled with his friends to the outskirts of Rome, pondering the ancient feelings, and creating some emotional and elegant paintings of religion, mythology and literature. Many of his masterpieces were created during this period.
  Poussin generally chooses painting themes with “sublime style”, and most of his works are based on myths, historical and religious stories. His works are usually small in size, but they are meticulously crafted, striving for the perfection of strict sketching and composition, and the figures are also shaped according to Greek and Roman sculptures, so the shapes are full of sculpture. The conception of the work is serious and philosophical, with stable, quiet and sublime artistic characteristics. His paintings are cold and full of deep emotion, which can peep into the calm thinking of the painter. During the period of his “The Triumph of the Flower God” and “The Shepherd of Arcadia”, Poussin was dominated by classical rationality and applied the classical formal beauty to his creations. In order to control their own emotions, so as not to make the characters move for emotions, and try to achieve unity, harmony, solemnity, elegance and perfection of the picture.
  The Shepherd of Arcadia is his most famous work. Arcadia originates from the Roman poet Virgil who published his madrigal poems in 37 BC. He used simple verses to describe the simple life of the idealized rural Arcadia. The scenery and characters in it are far away from real life. The glory of the Roman Empire is recited in the form of madrigals, while Poussin composes a sad pastoral with a brush. The warm sunshine in the painting illuminates a peaceful wilderness, a few sparse trees, distant mountains with tall peaks, and a clear blue sky, but the theme of such a beautiful scene is a cemetery. He uses the horizontal and vertical factors to operate the location. In the center of the picture, a shape similar to a rectangle frames the four main characters. They are fit and handsome, and they are the models of classical characters; the other square is the tombstone, surrounded by characters, three male shepherds. Her gestures formed a ring, like a Greek sculpture of a woman, placing her hand on the shoulder of the shepherd who was looking back in amazement. The bright color of the woman and the heaviness of the male shepherd constitute a visual emotional contrast, which makes people breathe a sigh of relief from the extremely depressed mood. After all, there are bright colors in life. The bearded shepherd pointed to the words on the sarcophagus, “Et in Arcadia” – I, the god of death, also came to Arcadia. It’s a reminder that death is inevitable even in such a sweet, innocent, enchanting hideaway. This inscription in Poussin’s painting is not recorded in the original classical works, perhaps it was created by Poussin himself. Classical simplicity and careful use of precious words embody similar qualities in Poussin’s paintings, and perfectly express the sadness that he displayed in the face of joy.

Poussin’s serious style culminated in “Sagrada Familia on the Steps,” a work that united the styles of Raphael and Michelangelo. What the picture presents to everyone is the image of the Virgin’s stairs leading to heaven, but it seems to be far from religious paintings in the conventional sense. Poussin’s treatment of figures such as the Virgin, Child, Saint Anna and John the Baptist is more subordinate to a kind of compositional thinking. The five figures in the center of the picture form a stable triangular composition, the red and blue dress of the Virgin Mary, the yellow robe of Saint Anna, and the black vestment of Saint Joseph on the right. The sharp contrast in these colors has a solemn aesthetic value. The Virgin Mary appears to be showing the audience Jesus in her arms, while Jesus leans over to see his cousin, also naked, John the Baptist, who is handing him the apple. His mother did not take care of him, but focused her eyes on Jesus, while St. Joseph on the right was in the shadows, playing the role of highlighting the protagonist from the brightness, perhaps to echo the bright figure on the left, A mysterious light hit his feet. All the characters in the painting are so reserved, like a stage play, the background uses ancient Roman buildings, the whole picture lacks religious meaning, but it gives people a sense of harmony and symmetry, from the composition, it can be seen that the artist is devoted to classical Perseverance in artistic norms.
  Poussin’s creative method strictly follows the principles of classicism, as the French contemporary art historian Galienne Francastel said: “He worships nature, but all his methods are unnatural. Unnatural methods make nature a source of inspiration for daily life.” Even if he doesn’t sketch directly on the scene, he always takes a briefcase with him when he takes a walk, jotting down the movements and gestures of passers-by at any time, or sketching a few occasional scenes of beautiful scenery or scenery. ruins. However, he never used these figures or landscape materials directly, he always processed these materials and melted them into art.
  In 1640, the 46-year-old Poussin received an invitation letter from Louis XIII and Prime Minister Richelieu, asking him to return to Paris to serve the royal family as the chief painter of the court and a high salary. After returning home, he was warmly received and lived in a luxurious mansion in the palace. , but lost the unfettered freedom of creation in art, he himself said “like a noose around his neck”. Court etiquette, tyrannical system and orders, jealousy and conspiracy of his peers, etc. broke his artistic wings, which made him regret returning to China. But it was this trip to Paris that he brought this great classical law to France in its entirety. In 1642 he returned to Rome for an excuse and never returned to Paris. After returning home, instead of seeking fame and fortune, he devoted himself to painting, among wild cranes and clouds, and began to devote a lot of energy to the creation of landscape paintings. With the previous experience, the 62-year-old Poussin resolutely rejected the post of dean of St. Luke’s College in Rome.
  In the 1760s, Poussin was in his old age and gradually lost the ability to paint. He said in a letter to a friend: “I have not spent a day without pain.” Before dying, he said: “God promised me to go soon, Because the torment of life is too heavy for me.”
  Poussin spent most of his life in Rome, and because he was greatly pushed in France, he had a great influence on French classical art. In 1671, shortly after his death, a school called “Poussinism” emerged at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. In the French painting circles, a school called “Poussinism” emerged in order to respect his focus on studying Renaissance painting. It is advocated that sketch is more important than color. They are “sketching first” advocates on the relationship between drawing and color, and they argue endlessly with the “Rubensism” that advocates color first. As a banner of classicism, Poussin has always been used by academics to fight heresy. Even Cezanne, the father of modern art, once said: “Every time I come back from Poussin, I know more about who I am.
  ” In an age full of rationality, Poussin gave us not gorgeous colors, but works that incorporated noble thoughts and rigorous composition.

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