After Nicolas Poussin

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After Nicolas Poussin
The Return of the Spies
after 1664
Pen and black ink and wash on paper.
8 1/8 x 12 13/16 inches (207 x 325 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
III, 72

This drawing loosely replicates the composition of Autumn, one of Poussin's canvases for the Four Seasons now in the Louvre. The four paintings were among Poussin's last works and took over four years to complete (1660-64). Autumn depicts emissaries of Moses carrying grapes, pomegranates, and figs to advertise the bounty of the Promised Land. Details of the painted landscape are not found in the drawing, and the drawing lacks some background figures, including the washerwoman found in the painting. These discrepancies indicate that the drawing is not a faithful copy of the painting, but more likely a pastiche, as suggested by Rosenberg and Prat, who date it to the late seventeenth century.


Inscribed on verso, "Painted in Poussin's Best Manner. T'is in the Gallery of the Louvre/ R.jun/J Y".

Jonathan Richardson, Sr. (1665-1745), London (Lugt 2184); Jonathan Richardson, Jr. (1694-1771), London (no mark; see Lugt 2170); possibly his sale, London, Langford, 5 and 7 February 1772; William Russell (1800-1884), London (Lugt 2648); his sale, London, Christie's, 10-12 December 1884; sale, London, Christie's, 12 May 1902, lot 284; Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), London and Florence; from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York (no mark; see Lugt 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.
Associated names: 

Richardson, Jonathan, 1665-1745, former owner.
Richardson, Jonathan, 1694-1771, former owner.
Russell, William, 1800-1884, former owner.
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.


Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, III, 72, repr.
Rosenberg, Pierre and Louis-Antoine Prat, "Nicolas Poussin, 1594-1665. Catalogue raisonné des dessins", 2 volumes, Milan, 1994, II, no. R661, repr.

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