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all comparable to many in his dry style which we have in England.
Poussin, in a letter to M. de Chambrai, observes, “there are nine things in painting, which, though impossible to teach, are essential to that art. The first consideration of a painter should be disposition, then ornament, agreement of parts, beauty, taste, spirit, costume, attention to nature, and judgment above all. These nine points embrace many things worthy of description from the pens of the most intelligent writers. The subject should be dignified, yet receive no quality from the person who treats it; and, to afford an opportunity to the painter to shew his talents, it must be capable of receiving the most admirable form.”
ST. JOHN BAPTIZING ON THE BANKS OF
THE RIVER JORDAN.
In the year 29, of Jesus Christ, St. John began to preach repentance on the border of the river Jordan, and baptized all who came thither. The picture represents him surrounded by numerous Neophytes, of every age and sex, who hastened from all parts to receive baptism.
The painter has given, to this fine composition, an air of gravity, and that mute solemnity suited to the subject. The attitudes are simple and natural—the figures grouped without affectation. A sentiment of candour and resignation seems to animate the new disciples of the precursor of the Messiah.
More attentive to the general effect of the picture, and the expression of its personages, than to the delicacy of its details, the latter have been even neglected :- they are however executed upon a grand scale, and the style of the landscape is exceedingly good.
This picture, painted upon canvas, is about two feet eleven inches high, by three feet eleven inches wide. It was painted by Poussin, for the Chevalier del Pozzo, who was then greatly distinguished at the court of Rome, not only by his influence with the Cardinal Barberino, but still more so by his literary acquirements, his love for the
fine arts, and his zeal to promote the interests of men of talents. Poussin was one of those whom he most benefitted. He employed all his means to bring him into notice, and to obtain for him engagements of the most important kind.
In gratitude for these good offices, and in testimony of his affection for his protector, Poussin was always ready to undertake whatever would afford him pleasure; and to execute, in preference to any other person, the pictures he. desired, upon which he bestowed particular care. This is remarkable in the pictures of the seven sacraments, treated with so much dignity and expression, that M. de Chantelou was solicitous of having a similar set.
Although the picture of St. John baptizing in the Desert was painted for the Chevalier del Pozzo, it forms no part of the Seven Sacraments, done expressly. by Poussin for that amateur. At his death it passed into the cabinet of M. Le Notre, and from thence into the collection of Louis the Sixteenth.