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The Arcadian Shepherds Inspirations for the Work
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  1. File:Nicolas Poussin - Et in Arcadia ego (deuxième version).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
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File:Nicolas Poussin - Et in Arcadia ego (deuxième version).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The meaning of this highly intricate composition seems to be that, from prehistory onward, the discovery of art has been the creative response of humankind to the shocking discovery of mortality. The undated mid-eighteenth-century marble bas-relief part of the Shepherds Monument, a garden feature at Shugborough House , Staffordshire, England, beneath it is the cryptic Shugborough inscription , as yet undeciphered. The reversed composition suggests that it was copied from an engraving , the compositions of which are commonly reversed because direct copies to the plate produce mirror images on printing.

In another relief was sculpted as part of the monument marking Poussin's tomb in Rome, on which it appears beneath a bust of the artist. In the words of the art historian Richard Verdi, it appears as if the shepherds are contemplating "their own author's death. Carved below the title are the words "After Nicholas Poussin". The main part of the carving shows a military tank in a pastoral landscape.

While the phrase " et in arcadia ego " is a nominal phrase with no finite verb, it is a well-formed construction because substantive and copular verb omission is perfectly acceptable in Latin. Pseudohistorians unaware of that aspect of Latin grammar have concluded that the sentence is incomplete, missing a verb, and have speculated that it represents some esoteric message concealed in a possibly anagrammatic code.

In The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail , Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, under the false impression that "et in arcadia ego" was not a proper Latin sentence, proposed that it is an anagram for I! Tego arcana dei , which translates to "Begone!

File:Nicolas Poussin - Et in Arcadia ego (deuxième version).jpg

I keep God's secrets", suggesting that the tomb contains the remains of Jesus or another important Biblical figure. They claimed that Poussin was privy to this secret and that he depicted an actual location. The authors did not explain why the tomb depicted in the second version of the painting should contain this secret while the distinctly different one in the first version presumably does not. Ultimately, this view is dismissed by art historians. In their book The Tomb of God , Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger, developing these ideas, have theorized that the Latin sentence misses the word "sum".

They argue that the extrapolated phrase et in arcadia ego sum could be an anagram for arcam dei tango iesu , which would mean "I touch the tomb of God — Jesus". Their argument presupposes that:. Geometrical Composition. Poussin often built up his compositions on geometric principles such as the "golden ratio". This term refers to the ideal proportion that is obtained by dividing a line so that the shorter part is to the longer as the longer is to the whole. Using geometry in this way to determine the layout of a painting, and its key elements, enhances the harmony and balance of the composition.

Poussin's architectual design of his compositions was another feature that appealed to Rome's intellectual elite. Interpretation of Other Mythological Paintings.

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By Titian. By Bronzino.


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Palazzo Barberini, Rome. Jesuit Church of Sant'Ignazio, Rome.

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Alte Pinakothek, Munich. National Gallery, London.

et in Arcadia ego

All rights reserved. Background The greatest of all French Baroque artists of the 17th century, Poussin spent most of his career in Rome, and was a leading figure in Baroque painting , being influenced in particular by Raphael and Titian c.


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Philosophical Meaning Poussin's Louvre version is much more rational and carefully composed than his earlier painting at Chatsworth. Geometrical Composition Poussin often built up his compositions on geometric principles such as the "golden ratio". Comments RSS. You are commenting using your WordPress.

06 France 01 Nicolas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1637 38

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