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Arcadian shepherds

Painting, 120×87 cm

Description of the artwork «Arcadian shepherds»

The brush of Nicolas Poussin, the founder of classicism belongs the painting "Arcadian shepherds" that was written about 1540-60 years. Critics suggest that the customer of this canvas was cardinal Richelieu, however, no precise information on how the work went on the canvas, no. It is only known that after the death of Poussin, the canvas was bought by Louis XIV, who ordered to put him in his chambers.

For 20 years this masterpiece of French painter was only available for the elite. In 1685 the Paris Louvre Museum acquired the painting by Nicolas Poussin "the Arcadian shepherds", where she is now. Canvas romantic landscape attracts attention with bright colors, thoughtful composition, and philosophical meaning.

Description of the painting of Nicolas Poussin "the Arcadian shepherds"

The Central characters of the picture — three men and a woman looking at the old gravestone. The inscription on it, made in Latin, reads: "And I am in Arcadia". The poses and expressions of the men attest to the confusion: they try to understand the meaning of the inscription, and the thoughts that appear in them, bewildered. In the time of Poussin Arcadia was a way of the fabulous country where life is cheerful and carefree, almost like in Paradise. The idea that there is a place of death, unusual for a simple-minded shepherds, accustomed to a regular and happy existence. Sudden awareness of one's own limb creates in their souls the fear.

The woman, whose shape expresses the calm and serenity with a kind smile, looking at the older man. He read the inscription, down on one knee and taking the stone with your fingers. His companion, lowering his head and clenching his lips, silently going through the shock that he just experienced. A third character, a young shepherd, turns to the woman in the vain hope of a consolation, but in his face you can understand that and he caught the meaning of the inscription. On his back lies a woman's hand, as if soothing. The whole band symbolizes the life cycle: its beginning is a woman, and the Trinity men is the personification of the main stages of human life: adolescence, maturity and old age. The tombstone symbolizes the inevitable ending that awaits each of us.

To fully penetrate into the hidden meaning of the work of Nicolas Poussin, note that "Arcadian shepherds" — not the first film with a similar plot. In 1623 the Italian Guercino created the canvas with the name, which a few decades later appeared on the tombstone in the painting by Poussin — "Et in Arcadia Ego" ("And I will dwell in Arcadia"). It depicted two Arcadian shepherds, suddenly found a human skull. On their faces we see a mixture of curiosity, bewilderment and innocence — rather, the cruel sense of the findings have not yet touched their minds.

Poussin in his work has gone further: he has supplemented the plot of other characters, expanding it and focusing on the frailty of human existence. However, he uses the figure of the woman as a reminder that all the worries and concerns useless: death is inevitable, but awareness of this should not disturb the inner harmony of the soul. Wisdom is to accept life for what it is.

The painting of Nicolas Poussin "the Arcadian shepherds" were popular among the enlightened public of the XVIII-XIX centuries. So in 1760-ies in England, the family of Anson ordered a marble bas-relief depicting Arcadian shepherds Poussin. This masterpiece of world art is also used to create gravestones for the tomb of Poussin in 1832.
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Size: 120×87 cm

Artwork in selections: 9 selections