original oil paintings by south african artist

Nicolas Poussin on Art and Painting

Nicolas Poussin: A Definition of Painting

" Painting is nothing but an imitation of human actions, which alone are, properly speaking, imitable. Other actions are imitable not per se, but accidentally, and not as principal but as accessory parts. With this qualification one may also imitate not only the actions of beasts, but anything natural."

Nicolas Poussin: How Art Surpasses Nature

" Art is not a different thing from nature, nor can it pass beyond nature's boundaries. For that light of knowledge which by natural gift is scattered here and there and appears in different men in different times and places is collected into one body by art. This light is never to be found in its entirety or even in a large part in a single man."

Nicolas Poussin: The Idea of Beauty

" The idea of beauty does not descend into matter unless this is prepared as carefully as possible. This preparation consists of three things: arrangement, measure, and aspect or form."

Nicolas Poussin: Rules of Design and Colour

" A painting will be elegant when the extreme distances are connected to the foregrounds by means of the middle distances in such a way that they will contrast neither too feebly nor with too much harshness of lines and colours. Here one may speak of the friendships and emnities of colours and their rules."

Nicolas Poussin: Action

"... if in a painting there is no action its lines and colours are ineffective."

Nicolas Poussin: Novelty

" Novelty in painting consists mainly not in a subject never treated before, but in good and new groupings and expressions. By these means a subject that is common and old can become singular and new."

Nicolas Poussin: Form

" The form of each thing is distinguished by the thing's function and purpose. Some things produce laughter, others terror; these are their forms."

Nicolas Poussin: Colour

" Colours in painting are as allurements for persuading the eyes, as the sweetness of meter is in poetry."


Goldwater, R & Treves, M. 1976. Artists on Art, From the 14th to the 20th Century . John Murray.

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