News Issue No. 7 Spring 1999
Poussin; Reception and Interpretation of the Artist
Dedicated to Michael Kitson
In the spring of 1995 the Courtauld Institute hosted a lecture series on the work and critical fortunes of Nicolas Poussin sponsored by the Friends. I am delighted to announce that these lectures, which made an important contribution to the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the painters birth, are shortly to be published by Cambridge University Press.
The collection is notable for the range of perspectives it offers on the painter. It opens with Thomas Puttfarkens reconsideration of Poussins thoughts on painting, thus positioning the artist and what we securely know about his intentions at the centre of discussion. Claire Pace and Genevieve Warwick subsequently introduce the 'Italian Poussin. Specifically, Pace traces the evolution of the theme of poetic inspiration in Poussins work setting it in the context of debates about artistic imagination which engaged him and others such as the poet Marino, the painter Rosa and the theorist Lomazzo. Warwick, meanwhile, sets out to naturalise the anomalies oft noted by modern scholars in Poussins history paintings by reading them against Counter-Reformation theories of history - those of Mascardi notably. Charles Dempsey and Todd Olson by contrast attend to the reception and interpretation of Poussins art in France. Thus, The Ecstasy of St Paul is shown by Dempsey to have articulated a specifically Jansenist conception of grace while the austere histories and landscapes executed by Poussin for French patrons in the 1640s made, Olson contends, very precise political and aesthetic sense in the climate of the Fronde. The last two essays by Richard Verdi and Michael Kitson address aspects of Poussins critical fortunes. By attending to the after-life of Poussins giants - Polyphemus and Orion - in the work of painters such as Caruelle dAligny and Turner, Böcklin and de Chirico, Verdi reveals (surprisingly) the intensity with which Poussin spoke to generations of Romantics and Surrealists. Finally, Kitson analyses Anthony Blunts now classic monograph: Nicolas Poussin (1967). He discusses Blunts methodology, analyses his debts to and disputes with other art-historians and finally evaluates the significance and enduring influence of a book by one of the Courtaulds most distinguished former members. It is somehow heart-breakingly characteristic of Michael Kitson that his own end-piece should be such an intelligent, generous and elegantly written appreciation of the scholarship of another.
Commemorating Poussin; Reception and Interpretation of the Artist, edited by Katie Scott and Genevieve Warwick (Cambridge University Press, May 1999) is warmly dedicated in memory of Michael Kitson.
Dr. Katie Scott
Ingres in Fashion, Representations of Dress and Appearance in Ingress Images of Women
by Aileen Ribeiro
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) depicted the appearance of the fashionable woman with meticulous attention to detail and with rare perception and empathy. He charted in his portraits how clothes were worn and what part they played in definitions of identity and status. Using more than 150 illustrations in this book Dr. Ribeiro analyses in detail Ingress attitudes, his skill in depicting clothing and how he portrays the real and idealised woman in his paintings and drawings of the fashionable mainstream, the newly opulent French bourgoisie. This book has been published to coincide with the Portraits by Ingres exhibition at the National Gallery.
Dr. Ribeiro is Head of History of Dress, Courtauld Institute of Art.