Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome)
Oil on canvas
38 3/8 x 28 5/8 in. (97.5 x 72.7 cm)
On view at The Met Breuer on Floor 3
The picture was painted not long after Poussin arrived in Rome. It represents the story of Midas, an allegory of vanity, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Bacchus offered Midas a gift, and the king asked that everything he touched be turned to gold. Soon realizing that he could neither eat nor drink, he asked to be relieved of the gift and Bacchus sent him to wash it away in the Pactolus river. Partly submerged in water, Midas is accompanied by the personification of the river god.
The subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses (XI: 100–145). In gratitude to Midas, King of Phrygia, for saving the life of Silenus, his foster-son, Bacchus offered to grant the king whatever he wished for. Midas unwisely wished that "all that my body touches turn to gold," but was soon dying of thirst and hunger as a result. When he returned to Bacchus to ask him "to undo the favor that he had done for him," Bacchus told him to wash in the source of the Pactolus, which from that day carried grains of gold in its waters. Midas can be seen washing himself at the center left, while the figure of a large, reclining river god, a personfication of the Pactolus, dominates the foreground.
This is probably the painting described as Midas bathing in the Pactolus river listed in the posthumous inventory of Poussin's close friend and patron, Cardinal Camillo Massimi (1620–1677). Poussin's Arcadian Shepherds, a painting now at Chatsworth, Devonshire, is no doubt the picture listed in the same inventory as its pendant. Massimi would have been too young at the time these works were painted (between about 1627 and 1628) to have commissioned them himself, but the subject matter of the two allegories—the vanity of riches in the case of the Midas, and the presence of death even in the midst of earthly happiness in the Arcadian Shepherds—would have appealed to the Cardinal's later interest in Stoic philosophy. A figure similar to the river god in the Midas composition occupies the lower right corner of the Chatsworth painting and personifies the river Alpheus that runs through Arcadia.
An unfinished autograph variant of the Midas composition, with only one putto, is in the collection of Graf Lothar zu Dohna, London and Cologne (36 5/8 x 29 1/8 in.). As a weaker, unfinished picture, it is unlikely to be the example that came from Massimi's collection. Free copies of the Cardinal's pendants were still in the Palazzo Massimi after World War II and were presumably made after the family sold the originals; unfortunately the Midas copy includes no putti and thus does not help to definitively resolve the question of which of the two autograph versions was owned by the Cardinal (see Blunt 1981, p. 228 n. 10).
Poussin treats a slightly later episode in the Midas story in a composition now in the Musée Fesch, Ajaccio (18 7/8 x 25 5/8 in.): here a reclining Bacchus looks toward Midas, who examines the gold-flecked water in his hand. The Ajaccio picture has been dated both before and after the MMA example. Poussin's larger, more ambitious treatment of the story of Midas and Bacchus, generally dated about 1630, is now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich (38 5/8 x 60 1/4 in.).
Blunt (1966) points out that the following pictures may be connected with either the MMA or Dohna version:
1. "une esquisse de Poussin représentant un Fleuve" in the 1757 inventory of the artist J. F. Chantereau (see J. Guiffrey. "Scellés et inventaires d'artistes," in Nouvelles archives de l'art français . . . , 1883 and 1884, vol. 2, p. 246)
2. "A Repose of River Gods" in the sale of the Marquess of Lansdowne, London, Coxe, March 19, 1806, no. 58
[Mary Sprinson de Jesús 2010]
probably Cardinal Camillo Massimi, Rome (until d. 1677; inv. 1677, lists "Due quadri compagni, di monsù Pusino, alti palmi 4 e larghi palmi 3: in uno vi è il rè Mida, che si lava nel fiume Patolo [probably the present picture], e l'altro li pastori d'Arcadia"); his brother, Fabio Camillo Massimi, Rome (from 1677); Vincent Donjeux (until 1793; his sale, Lebrun, Paris, April 29, 1793, no. 312, as " . . . quatre figures dans un paysage . . . un homme endormi et vu de dos," by Poussin, 35 x 26 in., for 111 livres to Renoult); probably Pierre-Joseph Renoult (from 1793); Solirène, Paris (by 1812–36; his sale, Delaroche, Paris, March 11–13, 1812, no. 86, "Faunes endormis," by Poussin, with two putti, 36 x 26 in., for Fr 300 to Delaroche [bought in]; his sale, Henry, Paris, May 5, 1829, no. 118, presumably bought in; sold to Smith in 1836); John Smith, London (from 1836); Earl of Shaftesbury; marquis du Baisel, Paris (until d. 1870; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 16–17, 1870, no. 102, as a mythological allegory by Poussin, for either Fr. 3,500 to Gauchez or for Fr. 3,900 to Philips of London); [Léon Gauchez and Alexis Febvre, Paris, 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William Tilden Blodgett and John Taylor Johnston (1871; sold to MMA)
Louisville. J. B. Speed Art Museum. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," December 1, 1948–January 23, 1949, no catalogue.
Madison. Memorial Union Gallery, University of Wisconsin. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," February 15–March 30, 1949, unnumbered cat.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," April 24–June 30, 1949, no catalogue.
Toledo Museum of Art. "Nicolas Poussin, 1594–1665," January 4–February 2, 1959, unnumbered cat.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Nicolas Poussin, 1594–1665," February 11–March 10, 1959, unnumbered cat.
Athens. National Pinakothiki, Alexander Soutzos Museum. "Treasures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Memories and Revivals of the Classical Spirit," August 15–November 15, 1979, no. 43.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections," May 26–August 22, 1982, not in catalogue.
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum. "Poussin: The Early Years in Rome," September 24–November 27, 1988, no. 152 (catalogue is a checklist of paintings only some of which were on display).
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 24.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Nicolas Poussin, 1594–1665," September 27, 1994–January 2, 1995, no. 10.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Nicolas Poussin, 1594–1665," January 19–April 9, 1995, no. 12.
London. National Gallery. "Three Paintings by Poussin," February 15–April 13, 1997, no catalogue.
Rome. Palazzo delle Esposizioni. "Nicolas Poussin: I primi anni romani," November 26, 1998–March 1, 1999, no. 31.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 30.
Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. "Grandes maestros de la pintura europea de The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York: De El Greco a Cézanne," December 1, 2006–March 4, 2007, no. 24.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. "Poussin y la naturaleza," October 8, 2007–January 13, 2008, no. 20.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions," February 12–May 11, 2008, no. 20.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 8.
Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–May 9, 2013, no. 8.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," March 18–September 4, 2016, unnumbered cat. (colorpl. 25).
Inventario dei beni Ereditarij della chiar:mem: dell'Em.mo Sig.re Cardinal Massimi. October 11, 1677 [Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, cod. Capponiano 280; published in J. A. F. Obaan, Documenti sul Barocco in Roma, Rome, 1920, p. 521, and in Ref. Pomponi 1996], lists "Due quadri compagni, di monsù Pusino, alti palmi 4 e larghi palmi 3: in uno vi è il rè Mida, che si lava // nel fiume Patolo [probably the present picture], e l'altro li pastori d'Arcadia".
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 8, London, 1837, p. 128, no. 248, calls it "The Groves and Rural Streams" and notes that he [Smith] purchased it from M. Solirène, Paris, in 1836.
Otto Grautoff. Nicolas Poussin: Sein Werk und sein Leben. Munich, 1914, vol. 1, p. 108; vol. 2, p. 61, no. 38, ill., as a signed "Bacchische Gruppe," unseen by the author, but brought to his attention by Valentiner.
Walter Friedlaender. Nicolas Poussin: Die Entwicklung seiner Kunst. Munich, 1914, pp. 48, 168, ill., calls it "Schlafende Flussgötter" (Sleeping River Gods).
Anthony Blunt. "Notes and Reviews: Poussin's 'Et in Arcadia Ego'." Art Bulletin 20 (March 1938), pp. 96–100, ill., notes that copies of this picture and Poussin's "Et in Arcadia ego" (now with the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth) are in the collection of Palazzo Massimi in Rome, and believes these copies are the paintings ascribed to Poussin that appeared in the 1677 inventory of the palace, listed as pendants; observes that the inventory "gives the clue to the subject" of the MMA picture, which must be "Midas washing at the source of the Pactolus"; dates the MMA and Chatsworth paintings about 1628–30 and concludes that Cardinal Massimi had seen the original pendants in the house of another Roman collector, perhaps Cassiano del Pozzo; notes that further evidence that the MMA and Chatsworth pictures were conceived as pendants can be seen in their similarity of style, similar dimensions (the Chatsworth painting measures 101 x 82 cm), and their related morals: disillusionment about the value of wealth, and regret at the impermanence of human happiness; believes the MMA picture may have been slightly cut on the right; tentatively suggests that Poussin's "Inspiration of Anacreon" (Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum, Hanover) is part of the same series.
Walter Friedlaender. "Iconographical Studies of Poussin's Works in American Public Collections, II." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 23 (January 1943), pp. 21–26, ill., identifies the pendants by Poussin listed in the inventory of Palazzo Massimi as the MMA and Chatsworth paintings and believes the copies presently in the Palazzo were made during the second half of the 18th century when the Massimi heirs sold the originals; considers it more likely that the Chatsworth picture was enlarged on the upper and left sides, than that the MMA painting was cut down; dates our picture to the end of the 1620s and associates the painting of "King Midas Kneeling before Bacchus" in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, with the apparently later work mentioned in the Valguarnera trial of 1631; discusses the evolution, which he sees as typical of Poussin, from "a more casual, almost personal composition" to "a definitive and crystylized work of art . . . straightened and forced into orderly layers with all the diagonals eliminated".
Harry B. Wehle. "Seventy-Five Years Ago." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1946), p. 200, ill. p. 207.
Anthony Blunt. "Poussin Studies–II: Three Early Works." Burlington Magazine 89 (October 1947), p. 270, pl. 3b, notes that during a recent cleaning of the Chatsworth "Et in Arcadia ego" it became clear that "strips of about three inches on the left and about two inches at the top were later additions," making the picture "a far more logical pair" to the MMA Midas.
Anthony Blunt. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. Baltimore, 1953, p. 185 [2nd ed., 1970, p. 168].
Fred Stephen Licht. Die Entwicklung der Landschaft in den Werken von Nicolas Poussin. Basel, 1954, pp. 113–14, 123.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 68–69, ill., calls the version in Munich later than ours and places the MMA and Chatsworth paintings about 1629–30.
Erwin Panofsky. Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History. Garden City, N.Y., 1955, p. 312, describes the MMA and Chatsworth pictures as "a twofold lesson, one warning against a mad desire for riches at the expense of the more real values of life, the other against a thoughtless enjoyment of pleasures soon to be ended".
Anthony Blunt. "Poussin Studies VII: Poussins in Neapolitan and Sicilian Collections." Burlington Magazine 100 (March 1958), p. 79, argues that the recently discovered Midas in the Musée Fesch, Ajaccio, is more likely than our picture to be the "quadrettino d'un Ré Mida con altra figurina ignuda . . . di Monsù Posin" mentioned by the dealer Roccatagliata at the Valguarnera trial.
Anthony Blunt. "The Leadership of Poussin:1. The Artist's Pictures Come to America." Art News 57, no. 9 (January 1959), p. 30 [reprint of his essay from 1959 exh. cat.].
Anthony Blunt and Walter Friedlaender inNicolas Poussin, 1594–1665. Exh. cat., Toledo Museum of Art. Minneapolis, 1959, pp. 10, 25, fig. 8, date it 1630.
Malcolm Vaughan. "Poussin in America." Connoisseur 143 (March–June 1959), p. 124, ill.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. The Splendid Century: French Art, 1600–1715. Exh. cat.Washington, 1960, supplement, p. 4, no. 173.
Anthony Blunt inExposition Nicolas Poussin. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1960, pp. 56, 58, states that this picture and the "Arcadian Shepherds" in Chatsworth came from the collection of Cardinal Camillo Massimi.
Denis Mahon. "Poussin's Early Development: An Alternative Hypothesis." Burlington Magazine 102 (July 1960), pp. 297–98, includes it with a group of small pictures, mostly of outstanding quality, painted towards the end of 1629 and during the greater part of 1630.
Erwin Panofsky. "Nationalmusei Skriftserie no. 5." A Mythological Painting by Poussin in the National Museum, Stockholm. [Stockholm], , p. 45, rejects Blunt's tentative association [see Ref. 1938] of the Hanover "Inspiration of Anacreon" with the our Midas and the Arcadian Shepherds in Chatsworth.
Denis Mahon. "Poussiniana: Afterthoughts Arising from the Exhibition." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 60 (July–August 1962), p. 29.
Francis Haskell. Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque. New York, 1963, p. 117, suggests that it may have been after his recall to Rome in 1658 that Massimi acquired the MMA and Chatsworth pictures, possibly from the heirs of Cassiano dal Pozzo, "though there is no direct evidence for this".
Anthony Blunt. "Poussin and his Roman Patrons." Walter Friedlaender zum 90. Geburtstag. Berlin, 1965, p. 67.
Denis Mahon. "A Plea for Poussin as a Painter." Walter Friedlaender zum 90. Geburtstag. Berlin, 1965, p. 129.
Anthony Blunt. The Paintings of Nicolas Poussin: A Critical Catalogue. [London], 1966, pp. 80, 119, no. 165, ill., discusses the provenance and related works and copies; remarks that "a very good early copy" was on the London art market in 1938 and again in 1963 [the picture most recently in the collection of Graf Lothar zu Dohna] and remarks that pictures of this subject mentioned in the 18th and early 19th centuries may refer to the MMA painting or to this early copy.
Walter Fiedlaender. Nicolas Poussin: A New Approach. New York, 1966, pp. 114, 116, colorpl. 11.
Anthony Blunt. Nicolas Poussin. New York, 1967, vol. 1, pp. 114, 150; vol. 2, pl. 57, states that "Poussin had already painted the last episode of the story in the painting now at Ajaccio".
Roberto Longhi. Letter. 1969 [see Ref. Blunt 1981, p. 228 n. 5], writes to the owner of the variant of our picture [now in the Dohna collection] and observes that the "autographie poussinesque" is perhaps more visible in his example than in the picture in America.
Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée. "Tableaux de Poussin et d'autres artistes français dans la collection Dal Pozzo: Deux inventaires inédits." Revue de l'art no. 19 (1973), p. 87.
Jacques Thuillier. L'opera completa di Poussin. Milan, 1974, p. 89, no. 35, ill., considers a date of 1629–30 too late for this picture.
Pierre Rosenberg. Nicolas Poussin, 1594–1665. Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, 1977, pp. 18, 142, mentions the phenomenon of "doubles" of high quality in Poussin's work, citing this picture and the variant in a private collection [see Ref. Blunt 1966] as examples.
Shuji Takashina. Poussin. Tokyo, 1977, p. 97, colorpl. 14.
Anthony Blunt. "Poussin at Rome and Düsseldorf." Burlington Magazine 120 (June 1978), p. 423, fig. 104, publishes as undoubtedly authentic a version of this painting that he had in 1966 [see Refs.] called an early copy by another hand, noting that a recent cleaning has revealed its fine quality; observes that this recently discovered version includes a single putto with a cornucopia, compared with the two putti holding an urn in our picture; retracts his position that Poussin never copied his own work and reproduces the two paintings as they stood side by side in the MMA Paintings Conservation laboratory.
Pierre Rosenberg, ed. Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665). Exh. cat., Städtische Kunsthalle. Düsseldorf, 1978, pp. 88, 91.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 9, 17, 326, 328, fig. 20 (color).
Doris Wild. Nicolas Poussin: Leben, Werk, Exkurse. Zürich, 1980, vol. 2, pp. 17, 260, no. R 25, ill., ascribes the Chatsworth "Arcadian Shepherds" to Poussin but rejects the attribution to him of our Midas, including it among works by the "Master of the Bacchanals".
Anthony Blunt. "Poussin Reconsidered." Connoisseur 206 (March 1981), pp. 226–28, ill., discusses in greater depth the version of this picture that he first published as Poussin in 1978 [see Refs.] and locates it in the collection of Graf Lothar zu Dohna; notes that it is more likely that our version belonged to Massimi, since the Dohna version was left slightly unfinished, but hypothesizes that "the Dohna version was begun first, and then abandoned by the artist, who immediately began—and finished—the Metropolitan picture . . ."; the Dohna picture, he believes, was brought to its present state of completion by the artist at some later date.
Anthony Blunt. "French Seventeenth-Century Painting: The Literature of the Last Ten Years." Burlington Magazine 124 (November 1982), p. 706.
Pierre Rosenberg. France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1982, p. 370, no. 3, ill. [French ed., La peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collections américaines, Paris, 1982].
Richard Verdi. "Nicolas Poussin. I: Leben, Werk, Exkurse. II: Katalog der Werke, by Doris Wild, 1980." Burlington Magazine 124 (April 1982), p. 249, considers Wild's [see Ref. 1980] reattribution of this picture to the "Master of the Bacchanals" one of the "real shocks" of her catalogue.
Ursula Mildner-Flesch. Das Decorum: Herkunft, Wesen und Wirkung des Sujetstils am Beispiel Nicolas Poussin. Sankt Augustin, Germany, 1983, pp. 155, 157–58, 177, 304, ill.
Paintings by Old Masters. Christie's, London. April 6, 1984, p. 45, discusses our picture in relation to the picture in the Dohna collection, up for sale as no. 24 [but bought in].
John Pope-Hennessy. "Roger Fry and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Oxford, China, and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday. Ed. Edward Chaney and Neil Ritchie. London, 1984, p. 231.
Francis Russell inThe Treasures Houses of Britain. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1985, p. 384.
Christopher Wright. Poussin Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1985, pp. 24, 131–36, 139, 269, 273, 275, no. 11, ill. (color), states that the recently discovered Midas appears to have been the pendant to the Chatsworth picture.
Paola Santucci. Poussin: tradizione ermetica e classicismo gesuita. Salerno, 1985, p. 14, fig. 8.
Ann Sutherland Harris. Landscape Painting in Rome, 1595–1675. Exh. cat., Richard L. Feigen & Co. New York, 1985, p. 22, calls its landscape setting "typically neo-Venetian".
Jean-Jacques Lévêque. La vie et l'oeuvre de Nicolas Poussin. Paris, 1988, pp. 58–59, ill. (color).
Konrad Oberhuber. Poussin: The Early Years in Rome. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum. New York, 1988, pp. 154–55, 253 n. 25, p. 274, no. 51, ill. (color), places our picture in 1627 and the version with Count Lothar zu Dohna in 1627–28.
Alain Mérot. Nicolas Poussin. New York, 1990, p. 279, no. 152, ill., calls it a "quite early work, certainly c. 1626–7".
James Thompson. "Nicolas Poussin." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 50 (Winter 1992/93), pp. 2, 13, 16–20, ill. in color (overall and detail).
David Carrier. Poussin's Paintings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology. University Park, Pa., 1993, p. 90 n. 31, pp. 123, 136.
Pierre Rosenberg inNicolas Poussin, 1594–1665. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 1994, pp. 55, 140–43, no. 10, ill., dates our picture 1625–26 and the Chatsworth picture 1626–27; notes that Cardinal Massimi could not have commissioned this picture as he was not born until 1620; observes that there is no proof that our Midas and the Chatsworth "Arcadian Shepherds" were conceived as pendants and does not find the juxtaposition of their compositions particularly harmonious.
Jacques Thuillier. Nicolas Poussin. Paris, 1994, pp. 53, 247, 266, no. 47, ill., finds the quality of the Dohna variant unworthy of Poussin.
Richard Verdi. Nicolas Poussin, 1594–1665. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1995, pp. 29, 168–70, no. 12, ill. (color), observes that the "unfinished replica" appears to predate our painting; stresses the rarity of the subject matter and the personal nature of the theme for Poussin; observes that although this composition complements the "Arcadian Shepherds," its style suggests a slightly earlier date, about 1627–29; believes that Poussin painted his two versions of Midas "before he decided to provide the more successful New York painting with its pendant, the 'Arcadian Shepherds,'" which he dates 1628–29.
Hugh Brigstocke inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 25, New York, 1996, p. 396.
Hugh Brigstocke. "Variantes, copies et imitations. Quelques réflexions sur les méthodes de travail de Poussin." Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665): Actes du colloque organizé au musée du Louvre par le Service Culturel du 19 au 21 octobre 1994. Ed. Alain Mérot. Paris, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 214–15, 219, fig. 4, believes that Poussin without doubt completed the MMA Midas before the variant in the Dohnas collection.
Timothy J. Standring. "Poussin et le cardinal Massimi d'après les archives Massimo." Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665): Actes du colloque organisé au musée du Louvre par le Service culturel du 19 au 21 octobre 1994. Ed. Alain Mérot. Paris, 1996, vol. 1, p. 368, states that the Poussin Midas mentioned in Massimi's 1677 inventory is not necessarily the MMA painting and could just as easily be the variant in a private collection, London.
Ruth Rubinstein. "Poussin et la sculpture antique. Le thème du dieu-fleuve." Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665): Actes du colloque organisé au musée du Louvre par les Service Culturel du 19 au 21 octobre 1994. Ed. Alain Mérot. Paris, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 415–16.
Massimo Pomponi. "La collezione del cardinale Massimo e l'inventario del 1677." Camillo Massimo: collezionista di antichità, fonti e materiali. Rome, 1996, pp. 92, 102, 144 n. 126, erroneously reports the name of the buyer of this picture and the Chatsworth canvas as it appears in the annotated 1678 Massimi inventory as "Monsú Alvares," and adds that these pictures were sold to the king of France in 1683 [the pictures in question were Poussin's "Moses Trampling on Pharaoh's Crown" and "Moses Changing Aaron's Rod into a Serpent," both now in the Louvre, Paris].
Denis Mahon et al. inNicolas Poussin: I primi anni romani. Exh. cat., Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome. Milan, 1998, pp. 25–26, 92–93, 98, no. 31, ill. (color), considers the handling of this picture close to that of the "Death of Germanicus" in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, paid for in January 1628, and on this basis dates it to the second half of 1627; dates the Chatsworth picture to 1628 based on its more robust figures; believes the Midas in the Dohna collection was produced after the MMA painting, while the latter was still in Poussin's studio, and left unfinished when it and the "Arcadian Shepherds" were purchased.
Michael Kitson in "Anthony Blunt's 'Nicolas Poussin' in Context." Commemorating Pousin: Reception and Interpretation of the Artist. Ed. Katie Scott and Genevieve Warwick. Cambridge, 1999, pp. 218–19.
Todd Olson. "Painting for the French: Poussin, the Fronde and the Politics of Difficulty." Commemorating Poussin: Reception and Interpretation of the Artist. Ed. Katie Scott and Genevieve Warwick. Cambridge, 1999, p. 181 n. 4.
Denis Mahon. Nicolas Poussin: Works from His First Years in Rome. Jerusalem, 1999, pp. 33–34, 36, 132–33, 144, 146 no. 31, ill. in color (overall and detail) [revision of 1998 Italian exh. cat., Nicolas Poussin: I primi anni Romani].
Judith Bernstock. Poussin and French Dynastic Ideology. Bern, 2000, pp. 69 , 72–73, fig. 1b, refers to the Dohna variant as a "the conceit in a state of transition, a stage that Poussin evidently rejected"; believes the pendants should be read from left to right with the Chatsworth picture at the left.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 167, 169–70, 172, 182, 216–17, 244–45, appendix 1A no. 139, ill. p. 217 and fig. 9.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 12–13, 168–72, no. 30, ill. (color, overall and detail) [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, pp. 15, 92–95, no. 24, ill. (color, overall and details)].
Jonathan Unglaub. Poussin and the Poetics of Painting: Pictorial Narrative and the Legacy of Tasso. Cambridge, 2006, pp. 52, 235 n. 39.
Alain Mérot. "The Conquest of Space: Poussin's Early Attempts at Landscape." Poussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, p. 57 [Spanish ed., "Poussin y la naturaleza," Bilbao, 2007].
Christopher Wright. Poussin: Paintings, a Catalogue Raisonné. rev. and updated ed. London, 2007, pp. 27, 30–31, 291, 295, 297, no. 11, ill. (color).
Pierre Rosenberg inPoussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, pp. xiv, 138, 160, 170–73, no. 20, ill. (color) [Spanish ed., "Poussin y la naturaleza," Bilbao, 2007], remarks that the composition "displays a somewhat unstable balance".
Richard Verdi. "Poussin and Nature: Bilbao and New York." Burlington Magazine 150 (April 2008), p. 284.
Timothy J. Standring. "Poussin's Erotica." Apollo 169 (March 2009), pp. 84, 86, asserts that Poussin's two paintings of this subject were "clearly intended for a homoerotic response"; believes that in his early years Poussin made templates of certain subjects from which he produced variants as clients requested them, and sees the two versions of Midas as a reflection of this process.
Lisa Beaven. An Ardent Patron: Cardinal Camillo Massimo and His Antiquarian and Artistic Circle. London, 2010, pp. 15, 19 n. 35, pp. 283–84, 318 nn. 160, 162–63, figs. 6.41 (color, diagram of wall of Cardinal Massimi's gallery), 6.42 (color).
Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron. "Et in Arcadia Ego": Poussin ou l'immortalité du Beau. Paris, 2010, p. 30 n. 39, p. 32.
Peter Barnet and Wendy A. Stein inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, p. 48, ill. pp. 36, 49 (color).
Keith Christiansen inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, pp. 209–10, no. 8, ill. [Chinese ed., Hefei Shi, 2013, pp. 20–21, no. 8, ill. (color)].
Pierre Rosenberg. Le cardinal Fesch, Poussin et "Midas". n.p., 2012, pp. 35, 41, 51 n. 93, p. 64, fig. 23 (color).
Nicolas Milovanovic inPoussin et Dieu. Ed. Nicolas Milovanovic and Mickaël Szanto. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2015, pp. 311–12, fig. 178 (color), under no. 55, notes that the complementary iconography, as well as the similar figures of the river gods, closely connect the MMA and Chatsworth paintings and support the argument that they were meant as pendants.
Andrea Bayer inUnfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. New York, 2016, p. 311, colorpl. 25, comments that this work and the Chatsworth version "demonstrate Poussin's deep fascination with Titian's mythological subjects," seeing's Titian's influence in the palette, the Arcadian setting, and the open brushwork and lack of finish.
Michael Fried. After Caravaggio. New Haven, 2016, p. 37, fig. 32 (color), contrasts it to Bartolomeo Manfredi's painting of the same subject (private collection), which he dates ?1613–15.
Artist: Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome)Date: ca. 1635–40Medium: Pen and brown ink, over traces of black chalk (recto); pen and brown ink (verso)Accession: 2002.39a, bOn view in:Not on view