The Shepherds of Arcadia (1638) by Nicolas Poussin

The Shepherds of Arcadia - Nicolas Poussin - 1637 - 1638

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Shepherds of Arcadia
ArtistNicolas Poussin
Date1637 - 1638
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions121 x 185 cm
Art MovementClassicism
Current LocationLouvre, Paris, France
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About The Shepherds of Arcadia

The Louvre in Paris holds a painting by French Baroque artist Nicolas Poussin, entitled The Arcadian Shepherds or In Arcadia Ego. Translated to English, the title implies Even In Arcadia; There Am I. In this piece, three shepherds are gathered around a stone tomb, intrigued by the forgotten concept of death found amongst the shepherd boys. This painting helped popularize the work with its subject “The Shepherds of Arcadia”.

Nicolas Poussin’s second version of The Arcadian Shepherds hangs in the Louvre today and is believed to have been a reworking of an earlier piece by Italian painter Guercino. While there was some uncertainty as to who’d originally commissioned it and why it was done, we now see it as one of Nicolas Poussin’s signature works from the 1600s.

Another great example of Nicolas Poussin’s work from the same period is The Abduction Of The Sabine Women, painted in 1633-34 and currently held at the National Gallery in London. Although different in subject matter, both pieces demonstrate that distinct Baroque style for which Poussin was known for – characterized by saturated colors, dramatic lighting and movement – as well as ideas about beauty and mortality that were popular at that time.

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