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

Apollo and Daphne

Oil on canvas, 155 x 200 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Poussin returned in his last years to the painting of mythological stories, but in a spirit entirely different from that in which he had treated them in his early years. The Apollo and Daphne, left unfinished at his death, sums up all the strange features of Poussin's last phase: the wildness and grandeur of inanimate nature, the impassive calm of the human actors, here more than ever like wax images, and the other-wordly atmosphere in which they live. These are no longer the gods and goddesses of Ovid, subject to the passions of the flesh. They are symbols created by the mind of the artist, existing in a world of pure intellect.