Happy 418th Birthday, Nicolas Poussin!

Born on November 19, 1594, Nicolas Poussin was famous for his paintings of classical mythology, as in his masterpiece The Rape of the Sabine Women, a famous scene of abduction and reconciliation from early Roman legend. The Sabine Women would influence renowned painters for centuries to come. In 1799, Neoclassical academic painter Jacques-Louis David turned to Poussin’s allegory in order to evoke the post-revolution reconciliation he sought in France, creating The Intervention of the Sabine Women. Whereas Poussin painted the violent abduction of the women, David’s canvas focused on the moment in which they intercede between their Roman abductors and the Sabine men, acting as heroic peacemakers. Centuries later, as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded, Pablo Picasso arranged for slides of both Poussin’s and David’s paintings to be projected onto his studio walls. Using their tale as a lens, he produced four paintings to speak out against the crisis, including The Rape of the Sabines .

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