August 18, 2021

J. Paul Getty Museum to Publish First Book Devoted to Nicolas Poussin’s Dancing Pictures

J. Paul Getty Museum to Publish First Book Devoted to Nicolas Poussin’s Dancing Pictures

Poussin’s images of dance of the 1620s and ’30s and their influence on French classical art


LOS ANGELES, CA– Nicolas Poussin (1594–1655) is remembered today as the father of French classicism; his dedication to draftsmanship and his inimitable style furnished an artistic blueprint for generations of artists, from Jacques-Louis David to Paul Cézanne. While he may be remembered best for his erudite and stoic later work, it was the works produced during his early Roman career that would have an impact on three centuries of artists in the French classical tradition. In Poussin’s paintings of the 1620s and ’30s, we find dancing in scenes of drunken revelry, violence, and passion of every kind.

Poussin and the Dance (J. Paul Getty Museum, $30), the first published study devoted to this theme, situates the artist in seventeenth-century Rome, a city rich with the ancient sculptures and Renaissance paintings that informed Poussin’s depictions of dance. This book examines how these works helped their maker confront the problem of arresting motion, explore the expressive potential of the body, and devise new methods of composition. The essays investigate how dance informed nearly every aspect of Poussin’s artistic production, notably through his use of wax figurines to choreograph the compositions he drew and painted. This publication also considers Poussin’s dancing pictures within a broader context of seventeenth-century European culture, collecting, and patronage.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the National Gallery, London, from October 9, 2021, to January 2, 2022, and at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from February 15 to May 8, 2022.

Emily A. Beeny, former associate curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, is curator in charge of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She coauthored Manet and Modern Beauty (Getty, 2019).

Francesca Whitlum-Cooper is the Myojin-Nadar Associate Curator of Paintings, 1600–1800, at the National Gallery, London. She edited Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life (2019).


Publication Information:

Poussin and the Dance

Emily A. Beeny and Francesca Whitlum-Cooper

J. Paul Getty Museum

The National Gallery, London

144 pages, 9½ x 11 inches

89 color illustrations


ISBN 978-1-60606-683-6       

US $30.00

Publication Date: October 5, 2021


Poussin and the Dance is published outside of North America by the National Gallery, London.


Media Contact:

Sydney Lopez, Getty Publications

(310) 440-6536


About Getty Publications:

Getty Publications produces award-winning titles that result from or complement the work of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Conservation Institute, and Getty Research Institute. This wide variety of books covers the fields of art, photography, archaeology, architecture, conservation, and the humanities for both the general public and specialists. Publications include illustrated works on artists and art history, exhibition catalogues, works on cultural history, research on the conservation of materials and archaeological sites, scholarly monographs, critical editions of translated works, comprehensive studies of Getty’s collections, and educational books on art to interest children of all ages.


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Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682


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