National Gallery at 150

Major William Clunes, died 1829Major William Clunes, died 1829 Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1865 - 1932)Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1865 - 1932) Diana and ActaeonDiana and Actaeon St Peter PenitentSt Peter Penitent An Old Woman Cooking EggsAn Old Woman Cooking Eggs Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778)Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778) The Sacrament of PenanceThe Sacrament of Penance The StormThe Storm Diego Martelli (1839 - 1896)Diego Martelli (1839 - 1896) The Three Graces (Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia)The Three Graces (Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia)

Nicolas Poussin

The Sacrament of Penance
1647

"One of the greatest single rooms in any gallery anywhere in the world is that blue-walled octagon containing Poussin's extraordinary, shattering, poised canvasses, all seven of them creating an archetypal journey through the various stages of an individual's life in the great tradition of Christian-inspired religious painting. It's hard to know which of these baroque masterpieces, each a virtuosic study of luminescence in its own right, is preferable to the other. I for one cannot choose between the Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction."

Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival

"These seven paintings are contained in a small room - a veritable treasure trove. In that room I discovered an understanding of the sacramental life inherent in Christianity, and, at the same time, I derived a clearer understanding of the laws of composition, tonality, colour and the application of oil paint to a surface. It was in that room that I discovered I had a vocation to devote my life to the history of ideas expressed by artists of the stature of Poussin."

Richard Demarco, artist/archivist

  • Credits Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland (Bridgewater Loan, 1945)
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 117.00 x 178.00 cm (151.00 x 212.00 x 11.40 cm)