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THE subject of this picture we have already described in our review of the merits of Rebecca and Eliezer, by Paul Veronese, to which the reader is referred.
This picture, of which the figures are about one half of the natural size, is one of the most valuable of Poussin, and holds a distinguished place in the museum at Paris.
It is almost impossible, in the limits of this publication, to give the particulars of the life of this artist, who was not only the most eminent of the French school of painting, but even one of the most celebrated of the Italian: should Italy claim the honour of his talents, and which might be done with great propriety, since he resided there almost the whole of his life, and his ashes repose within her precincts.
This eminent painter was born at Andel in Normandy, in 1594, and began his studies at Rome, in 1622, in the twenty-eight year of his age. He came, according to Bellori his biographer, as an artist already formed, and finding soon that he had more to unlearn than to follow of his former principles, renounced his national character, and not only with the utmost ardour adopted, but suffered himself to be wholly absorbed by the antique. Such was his attachment to the ancients, that he may be said to have often less imitated their spirit, than copied their re
REBECCA AT THE WELL. lics and painted sculpture; their costume, their mythology, their rites, were his elements; his scenery, and his back-grounds are pure classic ground.
His invention was as happy as it was lively, and he designed with spirit and correctness; though he was not always happy in the disposition of his figures, which too often were distributed in the same line, by the want of studying the chiaro-scuro. In perspective and architecture, he was perfectly accomplished. The colouring of Poussin did not, in any degree, correspond with his other powers of his art; it is cold, feeble, and hard, and more similar to the marble of those antiques, which he rapturously admired, than to the connections of nature, or the fleshy tints of other eminent painters.
Poussin was a man of great simplicity in his manner of living, and in his conversation. His whole mind was occupied with his art, and rendered him insensible to those gratifications of luxury of which some refined minds are but too fond. He was an Athenian in his taste, yet a Spartan in his habits of life, and united the elegance of the one with the austerity of the other.
This great master did not meet with that patronage and applause in his own country to which he was so eminently entitled; so that he twice took refuge in Rome, where his talents met with minds congenial to the simplicity of his style. He died in 1665, at the age of 71.