Review Round Up: Poussin and the Dance, National Gallery

Discover what critics had to say about the National Gallery’s latest exhibition.

Nicolas Poussin, A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term, 1632–3 © The National Gallery, London 

The Guardian: ***** “After all the joyous revelling in Rome’s grand carnality, Poussin became a grave painter of death in the landscape and a historian of the Christian creed. Maybe he just got older. Perhaps he woke up one morning in his studio surrounded by naked wax puppets and felt ashamed. Yet he had already created some of art’s most sustained and luxurious orgies, as this exhibition lavishly proves.”

The Financial Times: “The National Gallery’s show of early work, Poussin and the Dance, is a small marvel — a rarity and a revelation.”

The Telegraph: ** “In the end, the disconnect between Poussin’s red-blooded subjects and the studied elegance of his approach feels frustrating. Why pretend he is something that he’s not? These dances are refined, courtly numbers masquerading as country jigs. Too much decorum, not enough rapture or raunch.”

The Independent: **** “The National Gallery’s attempt to humanise one of art’s major names still leaves Poussin a little inscrutable.”

The Observer: **** “The show itself is beautifully choreographed, from thronged galleries to smaller spaces, and a pause before the final revelation – the masterpiece that hangs alone in the last room.”

The Times: “The French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) is a problematic presence in art. Nothing about him quite fits. He’s French, but most of his career was spent in Rome. His dates are baroque, but his style isn’t, at least not in an obvious way. You could hardly ask for a bigger contrast in artistic moods than the one you get when you put Poussin next to Rembrandt (1606-69).”

Poussin and the Dance is on display at the National Gallery until the 2nd January 2022.

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