Poussin and the Dance Catalogue

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Accompanies the exhibition at the National Gallery, London, 9 October 2021-2 January 2022.

In the 1620s and 1630s, Nicolas Poussin made a name for himself as a painter of dancing subjects and charted a new stylistic course that would make him the model for three centuries of artists in the French classical tradition. Poussin and the Dance, the first publication devoted to Poussin's dancing pictures, situates the artist in seventeenth-century Rome, a city rich with the ancient sculptures and Renaissance paintings that informed these lively works. Tracing the motif of dance through his early Roman production, the catalogue examines how these works helped their maker confront the problem of arresting motion, explore the expressive potential of the body and devise new methods of composition. The essays investigate how Poussin brought lessons from dance to bear on every aspect of his production, notably through his use of wax figurines to choreograph the compositions he drew and painted. Richly illustrated and engagingly written, this publication considers Poussin's early exploration of dancing themes, his related drawings and the ancient reliefs of dancers that he studied within a broader context of seventeenth-century European culture, collecting and patronage. Through the prism of dance, the father of French classicism is cast in a fresh, new light.


'A rarity and a revelation', The Financial Times.

'Deeply decadent delights', The Sunday Times.

'An unlikely artistic hero for our troubled times', The Independent.

' You feel Poussin's excitement the moment you enter', The Guardian.


Emily A. Beeny is associate curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, LA.

Francesca Whitlum-Cooper is the Myojin-Nadar Associate Curator of Paintings, 1600-1800, at the National Gallery, London.

Colour illustration71
Dimensions28 x 24 cm
FormatPaperback with flaps
PublishedSeptember 2021
PublisherGetty Publications
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