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The Testament of Eudamidas

Nicolas Poussin1644-1648

Statens Museum for Kunst
Statens Museum for Kunst

Poussin is the painter-philosopher of the 17th century. His works were mainly created in Rome, a place dominated by the Italian Baroque with its focus on sensuousness and effect. In sharp contrast to this style, Poussin’s clear imagery stands out.

An interest in classical stoicism

The period’s interest in thought and enlightenment took many forms, one of them being a keen interest in classical stoicism, a school of philosophy focusing on reason and moral argument.

In the writings of the ancient scholar Lucian, stoicism presented itself in the story of Eudamidas’ exemplary friendship with two other citizens in Corinth who assumed responsibility for his mother and daughter after his death as stipulated in his will.

A portrait of Eudamidas' friendship

Poussin’s picture of the dying Eudamidas dictating his will to a scribe presents this ideal friendship with imagery as clear as the value of Eudamidas’ friendship is obvious.

The pinnacle of pathos organised rationally

The figures are clearly rendered in local colours that make them stand apart from their surroundings. From Eudamidas’ face, contorted in pain as it is, to the doctor’s absent-minded expression as he places a hand on his patient and onwards to the daughter’s careworn face, the artist gives us clear directions on how to interpret the events in the picture. It represents the very pinnacle of pathos, yet it uses rationally organised means to do so.

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Details

  • Title: The Testament of Eudamidas
  • Creator: Nicolas Poussin
  • Date Created: 1644-1648
  • Værktekst: Poussin er 1600-tallets maler-filosof. Hans værker blev for størstedelens vedkommende til i Rom, hvor den sanse- og effektorienterede italienske barok ellers dominerede i samtidens maleri. Over for dette stiludtryk tegner hans klare og tydelige billedsprog sig i skarp kontur. Interesse for antikkens stoicisme Periodens interesse for tænkning og oplysning udmøntede sig blandt andet i interesse for antikkens stoicisme, en filosofisk retning med vægt på fornuftsvirksomhed og moralbegrundelse. Hos oldtidsforfatteren Lukian ytrede stoicismen sig i anekdoten om Eudamidas’ eksemplariske venskab med to andre borgere i Korint, som efter hans død overtog ansvaret for hans mor og datter i overensstemmelse med hans testamente. Eudamidas' venskab i maleriet Poussins billede, hvor den døende Eudamidas dikterer testamentet til en skriver, fremholder dette venskab i sin forbilledlighed, og fremholdelsen finder sted i en billedtale, som er lige så klar som værdien af Eudamidas’ venskab er indlysende. Topmålet af patos organiseret rationelt Figurerne står tydeligt optegnede og er gengivet med lokalfarver, som afgrænser dem entydigt fra omgivelserne. Fra Eudamidas’ ansigt, fortrukket som det er i smerte, over lægens åndsfraværende udtryk, mens han lægger en hånd på sin patients krop, til datterens forgræmmede ansigt giver maleren os klare præmisser for fortolkningen af begivenheden på billedet. Den er topmålet af patos, men gengivet med rationelt organiserede midler.
  • Teknik: Olie på lærred
  • Proveniens: Erhvervet 1931
  • Provenance: Acquired 1931
  • Physical Dimensions: w138.5 x h110.5 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1145
  • Dansk Titel: Eudamidas' testamente
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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