National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Assumption of the Virgin Nicolas Poussin (artist)
French, 1594 - 1665
The Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1630/1632
oil on canvas
overall: 134.4 x 98.1 cm (52 15/16 x 38 5/8 in.) framed: 171.8 x 135.3 x 13.7 cm (67 5/8 x 53 1/4 x 5 3/8 in.)
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund
1963.5.1
Not on View
From the Tour: Seventeenth-Century French Painting
Object 5 of 8

Poussin, among the most important of all European painters, worked in France and traveled through Venice before reaching Rome in 1624. Shortly thereafter, he began seeking rigorously composed interpretations of philosophical themes. Except for a royal summons to return to Paris in 1640-1642, Poussin remained in Rome. By staying in Italy, France's two leading seventeenth-century artists, Poussin and Claude Lorrain, who sometimes sketched together in the country, did not join the royal art academy in Paris.

The scene celebrates the Christian belief that after Mary's death her body was raised from her tomb into heaven. Executed about two years after Poussin's arrival in Rome, this canvas is among his first known paintings. In contrast to the severity of the artist's later classical works, a joyful exuberance emanates from the billowing clouds, swirling draperies, and flying cherubs. This dynamic movement, off-center composition, and rich color come directly from Poussin's knowledge of Venetian Renaissance painting and of Titian in particular.

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