The Seven Sacraments (2 series)
by Nicolas POUSSIN

Poussin painted two sets of the Seven Sacraments, the first for Cassiano dal Pozzo, his scholarly and benevolent and patron in Rome, the second for his faithful friend, Paul Fréart de Chantelou. The dates of execution for this first set are unknown, but they were not completed until 1642, when the final one was sent by Poussin from Paris to Rome. The paintings of the second series were executed between 1644 and 1648. They belong to the paintings produced during the ten years after Poussin's return to Rome, which were regarded in his own time as his most perfect, and which are now considered to be among the purest embodiments of French classicism.

The Sacraments, a microcosm of Poussin's art, reveal his working methods. It is known that he kept a small box rather like a miniature theatre, in which he arranged wax models and altered the lighting in order to help him with the layout of his complex compositions. He then made numerous rough drawings, trying out the compositions until the final solution was reached. It is easy to see that all the interior scenes of the Sacraments are arranged like a theatrical tableau, which gives them their curiously static quality and enhances their gravity.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
The Seven Sacraments I: Ordination
1636-40
Oil on canvas, 96 x 121 cm
Collection of the Duke of Rutland, Belvoir Castle

1251*1000
True Color
180 Kb



The Seven Sacraments I: Extreme Unction
c. 1639
Oil on canvas, 96 x 121 cm
National Gallery, London

1253*1000
True Color
147 Kb



The Seven Sacraments I: Baptism
1641-42
Oil on canvas, 96 x 121 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

1410*1100
True Color
181 Kb



The Seven Sacraments I: Baptism (detail)
1641-42
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington

800*1019
True Color
151 Kb



The Seven Sacraments II: Marriage
1647-48
Oil on canvas, 117 x 178 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

1227*800
True Color
124 Kb



The Seven Sacraments II: Eucharist
1647
Oil on canvas, 117 x 178 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

1546*1000
True Color
211 Kb



The Seven Sacraments II: Confirmation
1645
Oil on canvas, 117 x 178 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

1242*800
True Color
96 Kb



The Seven Sacraments II: Penance
1647
Oil on canvas, 117 x 178 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

1546*1000
True Color
223 Kb



The Seven Sacraments II: Ordination
1647
Oil on canvas, 117 x 178 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

1370*900
True Color
155 Kb




Paintings by Nicolas POUSSIN
until 1630 | 1631-1634 | 1635-1639 | 1640-1649 | from 1650
Seven Sacraments (2 series)