Arcadian Shepherds

7:00 AM

Nicolas Poussin, Arcadian Shepherds, 1650
Rapping and writing. This piece by Nicolas Poussin highlights parts of the classic baroque style with new elements of storytelling. In the dead center of the composition are three shepherds and a woman. Only one shepherd looks at the woman, the others focused on the inscription on the stone. The written words “Et in Arcadia Ego” literally translate to “Even in Arcadia, I am there," with Arcadia being considered a Utopian land. Four figures see the words but search for the meaning, looking for their Utopia on a bleak hill amidst a mountainous landscape, Poussin's typical subject of choice.

Elements of myth do not alone shape the baroque style of Poussin’s early work. The newfound movement, pretentiously called dynamism, is prominent here with the draping of the cloths and placement of the figures. Bodies are angled and figures have a posture. Their leaning and body language draws viewers' eyes to the inscription on the stone, leading them to look for what the shepherds also seek. Also enhancing the sense of movement is the vertical tree trunk that contrasts the diagonal motion of the four bodies. One of Poussin’s introductory pieces, this work incorporates many classic baroque features and foreshadows the potential of the great artist to be.

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