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Kimbell Art Museum Acquires Nicolas Poussin’s Sacrament of Ordination

The Kimbell Art Museum has announced one of the most important acquisitions in its history: French painter Nicolas Poussin’s Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter).

Nicolas Poussin, The Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter), c. 1636–40, oil on canvas, 37 3/4 x 47 7/8 in. (95.9 x 121.6 cm). Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth.

The painting is from Poussin’s famous first set of the Seven Sacraments, which has been universally acclaimed, virtually since its creation, as a landmark in the history of art. The series was commissioned by the prominent Roman collector Cassiano dal Pozzo between 1636 and 1642. In 1785, the 4th Duke of Rutland purchased the paintings and brought them to England, after which Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy of Arts, declared: “I think upon the whole that this must be considered as the greatest work of Poussin, who was certainly one of the greatest Painters that ever lived.”

“This is among the most significant old master paintings to have become available in decades,” commented Eric M. Lee, the Museum’s director. “I’m thrilled about the acquisition. Poussin’s harmonious painting, with its frieze of colorfully dressed figures set against a landscape, will beautifully complement the serene Louis Kahn-designed galleries of the Kimbell, and vice-versa—a perfect union of painting and architecture. The classical sense of restraint in this work makes for an interesting contrast to the Poussin already in our collection, the earlier, more sensuous, Venetian-inspired Venus and Adonis.”

The Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter) will be on view at the Kimbell beginning Wednesday, September 14, 2011.

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