Landscape with Diogenes Nicolas Poussin Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The French painter Nicholas Poussin was famous for his majestic landscapes and use of classical references during a time of the Renaissance where the Baroque style was more popular.

His painting Landscape with Diogenes is a perfect example of one of these majestic landscapes, painted towards the latter part and his life in 1657 for the Duke de Richelieu. While initially it was catalogued as being painted in 1648 it is now accepted by scholars to be from later in his life. The painting features Diogenes casting away his bowl as his companion is drinking water with cupped hands. Beautifully layered colours evoke the grandeur of the landscape, while the use of details to draw the viewer's eye to certain parts of the painting, like the pebbles drawing attention to the bowl, offer a perfect combination.

The simplicity of the composition is enhanced by the use of detail which gives the viewer a whole vista to explore visually. The dark greens of the trees and plants in the foreground draw the eye to Diogenes and his companion, but it’s easy to be drawn in by the detail of the foliage. Flowing from Diogenes and his companion the painting comes alive with activity that draws the viewer deeper into the life with the landscape in the distance.

The scene is one of tranquility and peace, activity and life throughout shows hints of comfort and prosperity. The manicured quality of the field along with the richness of the colours of dress in the characters in the midground hint at the prosperity that might exist and would have been welcome not only to the original patrons but also to the future owners and purchasers over the years.

The painting evokes emotion while it draws you in, the flow of characters in the midground take you to the buildings along the edge of the water. The details in the water and buildings seem to place you along the water’s edge pulling you into the splendour of a warm summer day. The depth and grandeur pull you in with the detail and mood that you could almost physically feel.

Though Poussin was known to have shifted to a cooler pallet later in life the warmth of the scenes still comes through. Currently, at the Louvre, Landscape with Diogenes is oil on canvas and has been used as an inspiration for many artists who have copied it.