Poussin accepted the invitation with great reluctance, at the earnest solicitation of his friends. On his arrival at Paris he was received with marked distinction, appointed principal painter to the king, with a pension, and accommodated with apartments in the Tuileries. He was commissioned to paint an altar-piece for the chapel of St. Germain en Laie, where he produced his admirable work of the Last Supper, and was engaged to decorate the Gallery of the Louvre with the Labors of Hercules. He had already prepared the designs and some of the cartoons for these works, when he was assailed by the machinations of Simon Vouet and his adherents; and even the landscape painter Fouquieres, jealous of his fame, presumed to criticise his works and detract from their merit.
POUSSIN’S RETURN TO ROME.
Poussin, naturally of a peaceful turn of mind, fond of retirement and the society of a few select literary friends, was disgusted with the ostentation of the court and the cabals by which he was surrounded; he secretly sighed for the quiet felicity he had left at Rome, and resolved to return thither without delay. For this purpose, he solicited and obtained leave of the king to visit Italy and settle his affairs, and fetch his wife; but when he had once crossed the Alps, no inducement could prevail on him to revisit his native country, or even to leave Rome. During a period of twenty-three years after his return to Rome from Paris, he lived a quiet, unostentatious life, and executed a great number of pictures, which decorate the principal cabinets of Europe, and will ever be regarded as among their most valuable ornaments. He confined himself mostly to works of the large easel size, which were eagerly sought after, and usually disposed of as soon as they were executed. He never made any words about the price of his pictures, but asked a modest and moderate price, which he always marked upon the back of his canvas, and which was invariably paid. Many of his works were sent to Paris, where they were valued next to the productions of Raffaelle. He was plain and unassuming in his manners, very frugal in his living, yet so liberal and generous that at his death he left an estate of only 60,000 livres—about $12,000. Felibien relates an anecdote which pleasingly illustrates his simple and unostentatious mode of life. The Cardinal Mancini was accustomed to visit his studio frequently, and on one occasion, having staid later than usual, Poussin lighted him to the door, at which the prelate observed, “I pity you, Monsieur Poussin, that you have not one servant.” “And I,” replied the painter, “pity your Excellency much more, that you are obliged to keep so many.”