The Sacrament of Confirmation
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The Sacrament of Confirmation 1645

On Display Scottish National Gallery

As in the other Sacrament paintings, Poussin wanted to show this scene in an early Christian setting. The ceremony takes place in Roman Catacombs and the figures wear contemporary dress. Poussin even ensured that the women’s hairstyles corresponded to those on contemporary Roman portrait busts. The figures on the right line up before the priest, almost like a procession. Children and adults are confirmed at the same ceremony, and women usher their shy children forward to receive the sacrament. Confirmation was to re-affirm an individual’s faith, which was first announced at their baptism. The priest anoints them with chrism (blessed oil). This scene, despite its early Christian context, would have been easily recognisable to Poussin’s contemporaries as something they experienced in their own lives.

Glossary Open

Bust

Sculpted portrait consisting of the head and the top of the shoulders.

Bust

Details

  • Acc. No. NGL 067.46 B
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 117.00 x 178.00 cm (151.00 x 212.00 x 11.40 cm)
  • Credit Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland (Bridgewater Loan, 1945)