The Abduction of the Sabine Women

Nicolas Poussin French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 623

This painting embodies Poussin’s innovations derived from studying Roman antiquity. Figural groups, several closely based on ancient sculptures, evoke the choreography of dancers caught mid-action on stage, while the complex interplay of drapery woven between the figures reveals Poussin as a master colorist. Poussin arranged wax figures in a tiny, theater-like box to establish the sophisticated spatial relationships and formal balance of such paintings. The violent subject comes from a founding myth for the city of Rome: Romans invited the neighboring Sabines to a festival with the intention of forcibly capturing their women as wives. When the Roman leader Romulus raised his cloak—seen here at left—his warriors seized them. This painting belonged to the French ambassador to Rome in the 1630s and then to King Louis XIII’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu.

#5105. The Abduction of the Sabine Women



  1. 5105. The Abduction of the Sabine Women
  2. 2653. Investigations: The Abduction of the Sabine Women
The Abduction of the Sabine Women, Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome), Oil on canvas

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