Poussin and Nature
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, New York; (212) 535 7710
Sunday, Tues-Thurs. 9:30a.m. – 5:30p.m.
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Poussin (1594 – 1665) is considered one of the most influential artists of the 17th century.
Winter (The Flood); Detail of Man Praying (1660). Oil on canvas by Nicolas Poussin – Musee du Louvre, Paris, Departement des Peintures.
In a dramatic contrast, Summer, as represented by Boaz and Ruth, presents a beacon of well-reasoned hope. Here, the landscape is teeming with figures all working towards a successful harvest; cutting down the fully-grown wheat, gathering and binding the harvest and providing for the constant needs of the workers. No less than 14 figures are in the fields busy with the needs of sustenance deeply associated with the season of warmth and fertility.
The figures are divided into two groups; one including Boaz and the supplicant Ruth, seem to represent the peaceful efforts of individuals working harmoniously together. Opposite the diagonal empty space that moves from the foreground into the middle ground, seven others can be seen as potentially aggressive figures. The worker in the foreground with the spear is admonished directly by Boaz to provide a safe environment for the stranger Ruth.
Summer: Ruth and Boaz; (1660). Oil on canvas by Nicolas Poussin – Musee du Louvre, Paris, Departement des Peintures.
Autumn (The Spies with the Grapes from the Promised Land); (1660). Oil on canvas by Nicolas Poussin – Musee du Louvre, Paris, Departement des Peintures.
Winter (The Flood); (1660). Oil on canvas by Nicolas Poussin – Musee du Louvre, Paris, Departement des Peintures.
Every effort to utilize the boat resting near the craggy rocks is hopeless; a man desperately attempts to climb the slippery side, another fruitlessly attempts to push off, even as a woman reaches up with her child to save it, just out of reach from the man above. Even the man trapped in the boat about to be swamped at the falls, prays to a heaven that we know will ignore him. The only answer is a flash of lightning that portends even more rain. Every figure in this painting is seen literally reaching for something that is clearly unattainable.
Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at firstname.lastname@example.orgRichard McBee
About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at email@example.com
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