Artwork of the month: “The Death of Germanicus”

11March 2009

There are parts of human history that I obsess with simply because they reveal a portion of truth about the nature of mankind, as to what we are capable of.  I like to paint these important events in history, to repurpose them, and link them compositionally to a historical work of art about the same event.  Nicolas Poussin did the same thing here.  
Poussin took the history of Germanicus’s murder and used it as a compositional model: a sarcophagus from Rome.  Brilliant conceptual, compositional oil painting; albeit there are so few that can and will connect the dots to read this painting as it was intended to be read by Poussin.  
This oil painting is a Masterwork example of compositional oil painting.  Go spend some time reading its imagery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Nicolas Poussin
French, 1594-1655
“The Death of Germanicus”
1627, oil on canvas
Germanicus was murdered out of envy and fear…
…fear always has and always will destroy mankind’s future.