Geniuses and Masterpiseces III.

Poussin: Bacchanal

21 March 2006 - 21 April 2006

Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), born in Normandy, spent the significant part of his life in Rome. He was mentioned among the greatest of his contemporaries, and his popularity has remained undiminished up to the present day. The young painter in Paris, similarly to numerous of his colleagues, was incapable of withdrawing from the influence of the great Italian masters – Raphael, Titian, Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio – and it was not long before he succumbed to the allure of Rome. The long anticipated journey, following two unsuccessful attempts, finally was to ensue when he was thirty, in 1624, and albeit later as a celebrated painter, he returned for a short period to Paris on the invitation of Louis XIII, he remained a captive of the EternalCity throughout his life.

Following the hardships of his early years in Rome, initially the painter enjoyed the patronage of the influential Cardinal Barberini, nephew of Pope Urbanus VIII, and following his departure, the cultured aristocrats showered him with their commissions. Although he received numerous ecclesiastical and monarchial commissions, he soon broke from monumental painting, and painted almost exclusively for the art patrons, specialising in cabinet portraits of an elegiac tone.

During the first decades of his time in Rome, due to his passionate study of antiquity and of the paintings of Titian, Poussin painted an entire series of idyllic pictures proclaiming the joyful attitude of Arcadia. It was at this time, circa 1626–27, the he produced his painting entitled The Childhood of Bacchus, more commonly known as The Little Bacchanalia, which has just arrived from its home in the Louvre to Budapest.

Poussin's masterpiece arriving as a distinguished guest to the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest is complemented by French, Italian and Netherlandish paintings related in their subject matter and tone. The display of the works of Sébastien Bourdon (1616–1671), Michel Dorigny (1616–1665), Giulio Carpioni (1613–1678), Hendrick van Limborch, Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789), Sebastian Ricci (1659–1734) and Simon Vouet (1590–1649) lucidly illustrates the type of nostalgic and idealised picture that Poussin and his many contemporaries fashioned of the culture of antiquity.

Curators of the exhibition: Ágnes Szigethi, István Németh