Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) was the greatest French painter of the 17th century, and one of the greatest painters of all time. His profound understanding of the art of antiquity and of the Italian Renaissance led him to create works of such sophistication, clarity and discipline that they remained the model for all classicising artists up to Cezanne and even into our own century. Although Poussin's subject-matter was largely religious and mythological, Richard Verdi shows in his illuminating introductory essay that it derived from themes and preoccupations that were intensely personal in origin. At the same time, Poussin's study of the countryside around Rome laid the foundations for landscape paintings of heroic grandeur and lyrical beauty. This catalogue accompanies the first comprehensive exhibition of Poussin's paintings in Britain, staged to mark the 400th anniversary of the artist's birth. Some ninety paintings have been assembled from public and private collections throughout the world for an exhibition of the highest scholarly importance, as well as one of great popular appeal. The works have been selected by Pierre Rosenberg, Director of the Louvre, who contributes a distinguished essay to this catalogue, and by Neil MacGregor, Director of the National Gallery in London. This lavish and beautifully illustrated volume encompasses much recent research on Poussin, and as such will be of vital interest to art historians. It also explores and clarifies an art that is fundamental to the Western classical tradition, and presents it in all its splendour. As a study of the artist and the genesis of his major works, it is unlikely to be superseded for some time.