Funeral of Phocion

(1648; Paris, Louvre)
   Painted by Nicolas Poussin, the Funeral of Phocion depicts an episode related by Plutarch in his Lives. Phocion was an Athenian general who fought against Philip of Macedon. Against the wishes of the Athenians, he worked out a truce with the Macedonians and, as a result, was forced to poison himself with hemlock, his corpse banished from the city. In Poussin's work, Phocion's body is being carried out of Athens. In the story, he is later vindicated and given the burial of a hero within the city's walls. In a companion piece also by Poussin, the Gathering of the Ashes of Phocion (1648; Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery), the hero's wife collects his remains for proper burial. Poussin's treatment of the landscape in these works owes a debt to the landscapes of Annibale Carracci and Domenichino. As in his prototypes, Poussin portrayed a nature tamed by man, with calculated parallel planes that recede into space balanced by the verticality of strategically placed trees. Poussin's classicized approach befits the ancient story of vindication and moral virtue.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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