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A Rare Poussin for the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon

February 13, 2016
Nicolas Poussin The Death of Chioné, 1622 Oil on canvas: 109,5 x 159,5 cm Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Nicolas Poussin
The Death of Chioné, 1622-23
Oil on canvas: 109,5 x 159,5 cm
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts

A rarely depicted scene from Ovid’s Metamorphosis is the subject of a Nicolas Poussin painting recently acquired by the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. The Death of Chioné (or Diana killing Chioné) was painted in 1622-23, just before the artist’s first – and very consequential – trip to Rome.  The Wikipedia entry on the artist, citing biographical sources, says: “In 1622 [Poussin] met Giambattista Marino, the court poet to Marie de Medici, at Lyon. Marino employed him on illustrations for a projected edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. These “Marino drawings” preserved at Windsor Castle are among the very few identifiable works of Poussin executed before his arrival in Rome. Marino took him into his household, and in 1624 enabled Poussin (who had been detained by commissions in Lyon and Paris) to rejoin him at Rome. It has been suggested that it was this early friendship with Marino, and the commissioning of illustrations of his Ovidian poetry, that founded, or at least reinforced, the prominent eroticism in Poussin’s early work.”

The painting was purchased from the London-based dealer Jean-Luc Baroni for €3.75 million and was made possible through the support of the Club Saint-Pierre Museum of the City of Lyon, the State and the Rhône-Alpes Region.

The Art Tribune says the little known work was first published in 1998 by Sir. Denis Mahon in the catalogue for the exhibition Nicolas Poussin. I primi anni romani. The painting was created in Lyon and commissioned by Silvio I Reynon (circa 1595-1666), and is documented as being in the collection of the Reynon family (who were of Milanese origin) in 1691.

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