POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)


Oil on canvas, 78 x 65 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

This is an earlier version of the self-portrait, executed in 1650, now in the Louvre. Poussin had done the earlier version to replace a disappointing portrait of himself which his Parisian patrons commissioned from a Roman artist.

The most conspicuous motif of the earlier self-portrait is the "memento mori". The artist present himself before a sepulchral monument - anticipating his own - flanked by putti; the expression on his face is almost cheerful. Viewed from a distance he appears to be smiling, while his head, inclined slightly to one side, suggest a melancholic mood. Cheerfulness in the face of death demonstrated the composure of the Stoics, a philosophy for which Poussin had some sympathy.