The Plague of Ashdod (1630) by Nicolas Poussin

The Plague of Ashdod - Nicolas Poussin - 1630

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Plague of Ashdod
ArtistNicolas Poussin
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions148 x 198 cm
Art MovementClassicism
Current LocationLouvre, Paris, France

About The Plague of Ashdod

The artwork “The Plague of Ashdod” was created by the French painter Nicolas Poussin in 1630. It is an oil on canvas painting that adheres to the principles of Classicism, an art movement known for its emphasis on harmony, restraint, and adherence to classical standards of beauty. With dimensions of 148 by 198 centimeters, this religious painting is part of the collection at the Louvre in Paris, France. It portrays the biblical narrative of a divine plague inflicted upon the people of Ashdod.

In the artwork, Poussin vividly depicts the turmoil and suffering caused by the plague. The foreground is filled with the stricken inhabitants of Ashdod; their bodies are contorted in agony or limp in the stillness of death, illustrating the mercilessness of the affliction. The variety of postures and expressions captures the range of human suffering and chaos that accompanies such disaster.

Amongst the afflicted, several figures stand out due to their dynamic gestures or central placement within the composition, drawing the viewer’s eye and emphasizing the emotional impact of the scene. In the background, classical architecture gives a sense of order and permanence that starkly contrasts with the disarray and despair of the figures.

Poussin’s use of color and light skillfully highlights the drama, with the dark and earthy tones of the suffering masses set against the lighter, more serene sky, which suggests divine presence or intervention. The overall effect is one of a carefully structured scene that conveys a narrative full of intensity and profound human drama, characteristic of the religious paintings of the period and the classical style Poussin is renowned for.

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