Arts in general
DOAJ:Arts in general
DOAJ:Arts and Architecture
Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
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AbstractThe contribution departs from the essential and still very much up-to-date article that Ernst Hans Gombrich, as far back as 1944, devoted to Nicolas Poussin’s painting Landscape with Orion. This article offers a meticulous and mythological interpretation of the painting along with the identification of the figures of Orion, Diana and Vulcan, and the artist’s sources. It is on Gombrich’s study that this reading, which focuses on a semiotic analysis of the complex figurative articulation staged by Poussin, is based. The unique rendering of the landscape in the background, the figure of the giant seen from behind in the foreground, the unusual cloud that spreads like a dark stain on the right side of the painting to fall on the eye of the colossus, Orion’s hand at the very centre of the canvas and the lighthouse above the horizon, are all elements of a pictorial system that is complex, but at the same time coherent and significant. As demonstrated here, the theme of Orion’s blindness is bound to that of skill in artistic creation, in a work that becomes a kind of poetic declaration for the peintre-philosophe. The purpose of this essay is to pay tribute to the Viennese art historian, to his everlasting article on the orion, without which we could never even have attempted to gain a better understanding of Poussin’s painting, making an effort in the meantime to put into practice what the French artist had firmly theorized. The opinion put forward here, is that this also reflects how Gombrich worked. The Viennese scholar never stopped at the ‘aspect’ of things, he never stopped before ‘recevoir naturellement dans l’oeil la forme et la rassemblement de la chose vue’, but always tried to see the image with the modality of the poussinian ‘prospect’, that is, beyond the simple receiving of its form in the eye – as the French painter continues – instead searching ‘avec une application particulière les moyen de bien connoistre ce mesme objet’.