80.01 cm x 101.6 cm (31 1/2 in. x 40 in.)
Circle of Nicolas Poussin
(Les Andelys, 1594 - 1665, Rome)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
The Suida-Manning Collection
This painting had caused considerable perplexity. Without question it was painted in Rome around 1630 by an ambitious artist who was both extending the development of classical landscape beyond Carracci and Domenichino and applying the lessons of earlier Venetian painting, of compositional device and warm opticality, that had so impressed Rome when, in 1598, the Aldobrandini family brought Titian’s great Bacchanals from Ferrara. No less, the painting represents a coalescing of just the type of ideal mythology that in the 1630s would become Poussin’s undisputed province and in turn a fundamental genre of European painting. A few scholars were willing to attribute this work to Poussin himself. Others, however, argued that it must be the work of a follower: its forms are insufficiently constructed; its blond palette, more typical of Poussin’s work of the mid 1630s, is incompatible with the likely date of the composition; and, most telling, its handling is too even, its finish too slick, for Poussin’s own hand at any stage. Very recently the matter has been settled. The identical composition, but rendered with the innate sense of structure, deep palette, and bold touch of Poussin’s early Roman activity has come to light in an English private collection. The Suida-Manning picture is thus proved to be a replica, probably by one of the circle of French painters who lived and worked with Poussin at just this moment.