The Ashes of Phocion Collected by his Widow (1648) by Nicolas Poussin

The Ashes of Phocion Collected by his Widow - Nicolas Poussin - 1648

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Ashes of Phocion Collected by his Widow
ArtistNicolas Poussin
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions116.5 x 178 cm
Art MovementClassicism
Current LocationWalker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK

About The Ashes of Phocion Collected by his Widow

The artwork “The Ashes of Phocion Collected by his Widow” is an oil on canvas painting by the esteemed artist Nicolas Poussin, completed in the year 1648. Emblematic of the Classicism art movement, this piece measures 116.5 by 178 centimeters and falls within the genres of history painting and landscape. Today, it is housed at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

In the depiction, the tranquility, and harmony characteristic of Poussin’s style are present. The balanced composition organizes a classically inspired landscape infused with serene light, guiding the viewer’s eye through the painting. In the foreground, central to the narrative, a woman draped in blue and white garments collects ashes into an urn, a solemn act that engages the viewer with the painting’s historical theme. This figure is understood to be Phocion’s widow.

Around her unfolds a serene and pastoral setting—a lush landscape punctuated by robust, green trees and architectural features reminiscent of ancient Rome. The background features a clear sky briefly interrupted by soft clouds, and a series of edifices perched atop a rocky outcrop, imbuing the scene with a sense of grandeur and permanence. Small figures populate this idealized setting, some by the structures in the distance, suggesting daily activities that contrast with the solemnity of the scene in the foreground.

The artwork offers a poignant reflection on the themes of honor, virtue, and the inevitable passage of time, while simultaneously showcasing Poussin’s mastery of landscape and his dedication to the ideals of the Classical tradition.

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