Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun

Artist: Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome)

Date: 1658

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 46 7/8 x 72 in. (119.1 x 182.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1924

Accession Number: 24.45.1


For his depiction of the gigantic hunter, painted for Michel Passart, Poussin drew on the Greek writer Lucian: "Orion who is blind, is carrying Cedalion, and the latter, riding on his back, is showing him the way to the sunlight. The rising sun is healing [his] blindness." Poussin also studied the sixteenth-century commentary on the tale by Natalis Comes that affords a meteorological interpretation. He therefore added Diana, standing upon the clouds that wreathe Orion’s face, symbol of the power of the moon to gather the earth’s vapors and turn them into rain.