The Sacrament of Ordination 1647


Christ holds up the symbolic keys of heaven before presenting them to Peter his chief disciple and 'the rock' on which he will build the church. The large E on the free standing column may refer to 'Ecclesia' (The Church). The other disciples acknowledge this significant moment through their varied gestures and expressions. Poussin planned every detail to ensure a balanced composition appropriate in mood and authentic in setting. He was the first artist to paint The Seven Sacraments or rites of the Christian Church as a series of individual pictures, which he did twice. This work belongs to his second set of 1644-48, painted for Paul Freart de Chantelou.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


The Christian Church represented as a woman. She is usually depicted wearing a crown and holding a cross and chalice or a banner. She is sometimes paired with Synagoga, representing Judaism. The two are also seen to represent the New and Old Testaments.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Composition, Ecclesia, Symbolism


  • Acc. No. NGL 067.46 E
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 117.00 x 178.00 cm (151.00 x 212.00 x 11.40 cm)
  • Credit Bridgewater Collection Loan