Lot 58: Manner of Nicolas Poussin (French)

Neal Auction Company

December 2, 2016, 2:00 PM CST
New Orleans, LA, US
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Description: Manner of Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665), "Classical Landscape", 18th/19th c., oil on canvas, unsigned, "Louisiana State Museum" labels en verso, pencil-inscribed "This picture came from Hungary" on reverse of frame, 33 3/4 in. x 45 1/2 in., antique frame. Provenance: Gaspar Cusachs, entrepreneur, historian and collector, (1855-1929); The Gaspar Cusachs Collection, loaned to the Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, LA (c. 1909-2016). Note: This painting remains faithful to the pictorial legacy of Nicholas Poussin in a number of ways. The density of its trees and its shadowed foreground, as well as its central temple silhouetted against another castle-topped crag, recall (albeit at a distance of at least several decades) the composition and arrangement of that master’s great painting of 1648, The Ashes of Phocion Collected by His Widow, in the Earl of Derby’s collection at Knowsley. Also proximate is a generic similarity with Poussin’s 1657 Landscape with Diogenes in the Louvre, with its distant town, leafy foreground, and tranquil pools. This picture manifests its later date by its denser, more crowded composition, its more complicated cloudscape, and the episodic narrative implied by its more randomly-placed figures. It seems close enough to Poussin’s painterly character to justify the conclusion that it may be principally indebted to Poussin examples, although influences from later painters such as Gaspard Dughet (1615-1675) may also be detected, particularly in the conspicuously stormy sky, that frequently formed a special feature of Dughet’s landscapes. The intended subject of this impressive painting remains enigmatic due to the deterioration of the legend on the fallen inscription tablet in the right foreground, to which the closest couple gesture meaningfully from their position on the road in the center. That tablet’s fictive inscription was once legible; plausibly it once held the key to this (probably Classical) iconography. Ref.: Hugh Brigstocke, “Poussin,” in Grove Dictionary of Art, Jane Turner, ed., 34 vols., London, 1996, vol. 25, pp. 385-397; Marie-Nicole Boisclair, “Dughet,” ibid., vol. 9, pp. 375-8; Howard Hibbard, Poussin: The Holy Family on the Steps, New York, 1974, esp. pp. 36-37.
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