The Crossing of the Red Sea

Nicolas Poussinabout 1634

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

My temperament compels me to look for and take pleasure in well-ordered things. I avoid confusion, which is contrary and opposed to my nature, just as light is opposed to the darkness.

Thus Nicolas Poussin explained his tendency to balance and choreograph even the violence and haste inherent in his narrative subjects. In drawings such as this one, he worked out the structure of a composition using clear strokes that captured the figures' essential gestures or shapes. He then toned down the movement, gesture, and tumult in the final painting. This is a typical development for most painters, but one even more conspicuous in Poussin's work. He made this study and at least five others in preparation for a painting commissioned by a member of an illustrious Italian family prominent in government and civic affairs and active patrons of the arts.

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  • Title: The Crossing of the Red Sea
  • Creator: Nicolas Poussin
  • Date: about 1634
  • Physical Dimensions: 15.6 x 22.5 cm (6 1/8 x 8 7/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Red chalk
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 86.GB.466
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Drawings