Poussin and the Dance

Emily A. Beeny and Francesca Whitlum-Cooper

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Poussin’s scenes of bacchanalian revelry, tripping maenads and skipping nymphs are often described as ‘dancelike’ and ‘choreographed’. The artist’s dancing pictures helped him develop a new approach to painting that would become the model for the French classical tradition. Shedding the sensuous, painterly manner of his early career, Poussin carved out the crisp, relief-like approach that characterized his mature work and set the precedent for three centuries of French art, from Le Brun and David to Cézanne and Picasso. He carried lessons learned from dance into every corner of his production.

This book brings together a key group of paintings and drawings by Poussin, exploring the theme of dance and dancers in his production for the first time. Focusing on the dancing pictures created in Rome in the 1620s and 1630s, essays connect Poussin’s interest in dance, his study of antiquities, and his formulation of a new classical style. Richly illustrated and engagingly written, this publication uses the prism of dance to cast Poussin in a new, fresh light.

Emily A. Beeny is associate curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Francesca Whitlum-Cooper is Myojin-Nadar associate curator of paintings, 1600–1800, at the National Gallery, London.


J. Paul Getty Museum
June 8 – August 29, 2021

National Gallery, London
October 9, 2021 – January 2, 2022

ISBN: 9781857096729
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Publishing Partner: Published by National Gallery Company/Distributed by Yale University Press
144 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
70 color + b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World excl. North America

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