ART / Picture Choice: Michael Kenny on the work of Nicholas Poussin

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Nicholas Poussin could be described as an artist's artist. His work achieves the unity of form and content to which many artists aspire. I particularly admire the quality of the draughtsmanship in his paintings. It's sheer brilliance. They're often thought of as being highly cerebral - rational. But in The Nurture of Jupiter it is as though Poussin is a furtive romantic behind that classical exterior. It has an expressiveness which is quite remarkable and a delicacy of structure which gives feeling to the subject matter. What interested me most here were the clusters of his figures. In the drawings I made based on the picture I took out the figures from the pictorial space and placed them in the much more architectural space that I use in my own drawings. I re- planted them. I didn't want to abstract them, so I reduced them to line drawings and that had the effect of distancing them from the original. There are several benefits in working in this way. Firstly, the painting is source material just as if it were a life figure. On another level there's the fact that a lot of people like to see the Old Masters and won't go near modern art. Poussin integrates thought and belief - the spiritual and the


The Nurture of Jupiter is on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery, SE21. Michael Kenny's drawings from Poussin are at the gallery to 3 April

(Photograph omitted)