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'Landscape with the ashes of Phocion', Nicolas Poussin, 1648

Classically columned architecture is placed the centrally deep into the painting. This is surrounded by large trees on either side. In the midground there are archers, people reading and playing musical instruments, as well  the main scene in the foregoun

Oil on canvas, 116.5 x 178.5cm

Accession Number WAG10350

Phocion was a great Athenian general and statesman of the 4th century BC. He was executed for treason on a false charge contrived by his political enemies. His body was ignominiously ordered out of Athens to Megara where it was burnt. In this painting his grieving wife is shown collecting his ashes.

The solemn grandeur of the subject is conveyed by the rigid structure, geometrical organisation and perfect calm of the landscape and townscape. The classical, even heroic setting for the event is dominated by the central temple and hill and by the dark massed trees on either side.

Poussin turned to landscape in middle age and this was one of the first of a group that virtually created a new tradition of classical landscape.

Purchased with the help of the Art Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund.

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