THERE IS A MAJESTY AND TREMEN­DOUS SENSE OF STO­RY­TELLING

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Visual Arts -

Sea had very metic­u­lous tech­niques and strict ad­her­ence to anatom­i­cal cor­rect­ness but this was such a te­dious, time-con­sum­ing prac­tice that most artists would have not both­ered.

First, Poussin drew all his fig­ures nude and then grad­u­ally added the cloth­ing af­ter­wards. He also made three-di­men­sional work­ing wax models of all the fig­ures. He even devel­oped more so­phis­ti­cated bozzetti or sculp­tures so he could get the group­ings of peo­ple right. He made ev­ery ges­ture count to­wards the telling of the story.

The paint­ing is also sur­rounded by what must be one of the most eye-catch­ing frames. Ex­tremely or­nate and in the ro­coco style, this splen­did and much ad­mired frame dates from about 1710 and has also been re­stored re­cently.

Matthies­son says she con­sid­ers Poussin sim­i­lar to the com­poser Bach in the way both com­bine beauty and feel­ing with logic.

‘‘ I feel a sense of great plea­sure and re­lax­ation when a great artist can con­trol so many un­ruly and emo­tional el­e­ments, and I think you get that ev­ery time with Poussin,’’ she says.

‘‘ There is a majesty and tremen­dous sense of sto­ry­telling coming out of his paint­ings. You feel like you have been on a jour­ney and there has been ex­cite­ment and drama, but you al­ways have a sense that he knows where he is tak­ing you.

‘‘ Poussin has a very eru­dite taste and it as­sumes a lot of prior knowl­edge on the part of view­ers, but it re­wards any­one who wants to com­pare the bi­b­li­cal and clas­si­cal sources with the pic­ture be­cause you gain an ad­mi­ra­tion of Poussin’s sub­tlety and in­ter­pre­ta­tion.’’

Oil on can­vas, 155.6cm by 215.3cm

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