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Nicolas Poussin (June 15, 1594 – November 19, 1665)

The grand style consists in four things: subject, thought, execution and style. The first thing that one demands, as the foundation of all the others, is that the nature of the subject be grand, such as divine things, battles, and heroic deeds. If the subject is great, the next point is to avoid puerilities and not to fail in the dignity of the historical presentation. A certain negligence should be exercised in ordinary matters of secondary interest. A painter should not only invent his subject, he must also use judgment to recognise quickly the good and suitable, and what will conduce to perfection in painting.

stcecelia-Nicolas Poussin

Coarse or vile subjects are the refuge of those who, by reason of the weakness of their talent, cannot choose anything else. The resources of art are useless for unworthy themes. The thought is a pure product of the soul, and includes all portions of the subject. Such was the thought of Homer, and of Phidias in his Jupiter Olympus. Design should always bring out the thought. Execution, or the composition of all the parts, ought not to be too studied or too elaborate, but suited to the nature of the theme. Style is an individual manner of application and use of ideas. It is an art of drawing and brushwork which belongs to the particular genius of each man.

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