Titolo della tesi: "De lumine et umbra" - philosophy, practice and the 'Eye of the Understanding' in the paintings of Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)
The thesis explores Nicolas Poussin’s practice of painting – his choice and use of materials – in the context of the philosophy and culture of his own times, rather than from the perspective of subsequent generations imbibed the dualism of Cartesian philosophy. Poussin’s cultural milieu was the humanist circle of Cassiano dal Pozzo in Rome, and = in the first two chapters the thesis explores the classical and humanist roots to his thought which he would have acquired in his early years in France, before his arrival in Rome at the age of 30.
The first chapter of the central section is devoted to the analysis of the materials that make up the physical structure of Poussin’s paintings (based on the study of 60 or so paintings), again from the perspective of contemporary writings (and their sources) – both technical and philosophical – and in terms of their meaning in relation to the subject of the painting. The following chapter is devoted to in depth technical entries on 24 of these, thus providing a data-base of technical material accessible to researchers.
The final section is devoted to a monographic case-study – art-historical, philosophical and technical – of a single work, the Extreme Unction painted for his friend and patron,Cassiano dal Pozzo.