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

The Holy Family in Egypt

Oil on canvas, 105 x 145 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

In the figure compositions of Poussin's last phase certain features present in the previous years are intensified, such as the almost puritanical simplicity and severity of the compositions, and the elimination of all picturesque ornament. But there are new qualities. In The Holy Family in Egypt, painted in about 1655-57, for instance, the calmness has been carried to a much higher pitch. Action and gesture have disappeared, and even facial expression is reduced to the minimum. The whole painting is typical of the method of expressive understatement which Poussin uses so much in the last period.