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How smart was Poussin?

Malcolm Bull, 4 April 1991

Nicolas Poussin 
by Alain Mérot, translated by Fabia Claris.
Thames and Hudson, 336 pp., £65, November 1990, 0 300 04763 0
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Nicolas Poussin: Dialectics of Painting 
by Oskar Bätschmann, translated by Marko Daniel.
Reaktion, 176 pp., £27, September 1990, 0 948462 10 8
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Ideal Landscape: Annibale Carracci, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain 
by Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf.
Yale, 256 pp., £35, November 1990, 0 300 04763 0
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... When Bernini saw Poussin’s Landscape with the Gathering of the Ashes Phocion, he pointed to his forehead and said: ‘Poussin is a painter who works from up here.’ Subsequent commentators have almost all endorsed this view, and the history of Poussin’s critical fortunes can be read as an elaboration of the sculptor’s telling gesture. The 17th-century critic Bellori noted that Poussin had the ‘most prized gifts of intelligence ...

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