Nicolas Poussin: The Death of Germanicus (1628)

(Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)

Nicolas Poussin was a French artists who painted a lot of religious, mythological and historical paintings. This painting was his first history painting. The subject of the painting comes from the Annales of the Roman historian Tacitus. The main person of the painting is Germanicus Julius Caesar, better known as Germanicus. Germanicus was a Roman general the adoptive son of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Germanicus won several victories in Germany (for which he received the honorific title of 'Germanicus') and in the Middle East. During his campaign in the middle East he fell ill and suddenly died. His death aroused much speculation. The Roman historian Tacitus blames the emperor Tiberius for his death because Tiberius was jealous of his nephew's popularity and increasing power. Poussin shows us the episode from Tacitus. Germanicus lies on his deathbed and is surrounded by friends, family and fellow soldiers. Germanicus asks his friends to avenge his murder and his wife to endure her sorrow bravely. The entire composition was based on a Roman sarcophagus relief. Painting from 1628.