While Poussin resided at Paris, his talents, and the endowments of his mind procured him the esteem of several men of letters and distinction, among whom was the Cav. Marino, the celebrated Italian poet, who happened then to be in Paris. Marino strongly urged him to accompany him to Rome, an invitation which Poussin would gladly have accepted, had he not then been engaged in some commissions of importance, which having completed, he set out for Rome in 1624, where he was warmly received by his friend Marino, who introduced him to the Cardinal Barberini. He however derived little advantage from this favorable notice at the time, as the Cardinal soon after left Rome on his legation to France and Spain, and the Cav. Marino died about the same time. Poussin now found himself a stranger, friendless and unknown in the Eternal City, in very embarrassed circumstances; but he consoled himself with the thought that his wants were few, that he was in the very place where he had long sighed to be, surrounded by the glorious works of ancient and modern art, and that he should have abundant leisure to study. Therefore, though he could scarcely supply his necessities by the disposal of his works, and was often compelled to sell them for the most paltry prices, his courage did not fail him, but rather stimulated him to the greatest assiduity to perfect himself in the art. He lodged in the same house with Francis du Quesnoy, called Il Fiammingo, the state of whose finances at that time were not more flourishing than his own, and he lived in habits of intimacy and strict friendship with that eminent sculptor, with whom he explored, studied, and modeled the most celebrated antique statues and bas-reliefs, particularly the Meleager in the Vatican, from which he derived his rules of proportion. At first he copied several of the works of Titian, and improved his style of coloring, but he afterwards contemplated the works of Raffaelle with an enthusiasm bordering on adoration. The admirable expression and purity of the works of Domenichino, rendered them particularly interesting to him, and he used to regard his Communion of St. Jerome as the second picture at Rome, the Transfiguration by Raffaelle being the first.
POUSSIN’S DISTRESS AT ROME.
While Poussin was thus pursuing his studies at Rome, he was left by the death of his friend Marino, in a state of extreme distress, and was obliged to dispose of his paintings at the most paltry prices, to procure the necessaries of life. Filibien says that he sold the two fine battle-pieces which were afterwards in the collection of the Duke de Noailles for seven crowns each, and a picture of a Prophet for eight livres. His celebrated picture of “the Ark of God among the Philistines” brought him but sixty crowns; the original purchaser sold it not long afterwards to the Duc de Richelieu for one thousand crowns!