The Crossing of the Red Sea

Object Details


The Crossing of the Red Sea


Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594 - 1665)




about 1634


Red chalk

Object Number:



15.6 × 22.5 cm (6 1/8 × 8 7/8 in.)

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My temperament compels me to look for and take pleasure in well-ordered things. I avoid confusion, which is contrary and opposed to my nature, just as light is opposed to the darkness.

Thus Nicolas Poussin explained his tendency to balance and choreograph even the violence and haste inherent in his narrative subjects. In drawings such as this one, he worked out the structure of a composition using clear strokes that captured the figures' essential gestures or shapes. He then toned down the movement, gesture, and tumult in the final painting. This is a typical development for most painters, but one even more conspicuous in Poussin's work. He made this study and at least five others in preparation for a painting commissioned by a member of an illustrious Italian family prominent in government and civic affairs and active patrons of the arts.


J. Isaacs

February 27, 1964

Sotheby's (London), part of lot 69


Sotheby's, part of lot 69


Art Market (London)


Art Market, (London)


Sir Anthony Frederick Blunt, British, 1907 - 1983


Art Market (Zürich, Switzerland)


Art Market, (Zürich, Switzerland)


Art Market (Boston)


Art Market, (Boston)

The Sir Anthony Blunt Collection (1964)
  • Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery (London), 1964
16-17th Century European Drawings (December 28, 1993 to March 13, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), December 28, 1993 to March 13, 1994