Landscape with the gathering of the Ashes of Phocion

Nicolas Poussin, 1648

WAG 10350

About this object

Phocion was an Athenian general who was executed in the 4th century B.C. after a false accusation of treason. As punishment, his body was cremated outside the city walls. This painting shows his wife secretly collecting his ashes to hide illegally. The stillness of the landscape and architecture is contrasted with the tension in the front of the painting. The widow’s companion appears to sense the spying youth hidden in the nearby grove. The rocky landscape towers over the buildings, perhaps a reminder of the power of nature over humankind.

This work was commissioned by a wealthy French silk merchant, along with another painting showing Phocion’s funeral (now on loan to the National Museum of Wales).

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    Landscape with the Gathering of the Ashes of Phocion; Landscape with the Ashes of Phocion; Landscape with the Ashes of Phokion collected by his widow
  • Artist(s)
    Nicolas Poussin (French, born:1594-06, died:1665-11-19)
  • Date
  • Materials
    Canvas; Oil paint
  • Measurements
    canvas/support: 116.5 cm x 178.5 cm
  • Physical description
    A landscape with a town and temple in the centre. There are trees on both sides of the composition and a woman is crouching in the centre foreground. A woman looking over her shoulder is standing next to her.
  • Related people
    Art Fund (Associated Person) ; Nicolas Poussin (Artist/maker) ; Stanley, Edward Smith, 12th Earl of Derby (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 10350
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and other benefactors in 1983
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 03
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • Stanley, Edward Smith, 12th Earl of Derby

    Owned from: 1777
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1834
    Disposal method: Inherited by 13th Earl of Derby and descended to the ?19th Earl of Derby from whose executors
Object view = Fine Art
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