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Landscape with Saint John on Patmos

Painting of Greek landscape, classical architecture, yellow, red robed man reading.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Painting of Greek landscape, classical architecture, yellow, red robed man reading.




Nicolas Poussin
French, 1594–1665

About this artwork

Although French by birth and training, Nicolas Poussin spent most of his career in Rome, immersed in the study of ancient art, where he painted classically inspired works for an educated elite. His art has long been considered the embodiment of the ideals of seventeenth-century classicism. In this painting, Saint John, one of the four Evangelists who wrote the Gospels of the New Testament, reclines beside his attribute, the eagle. He is here depicted as a powerful old man, presumably after retiring to the Greek island of Patmos to write his gospel and the book of Revelation at the end of his life. To suggest the vanished glory of the ancient world, Poussin carefully constructed an idealized setting for the saint, complete with an obelisk, a temple, and column fragments. Man-made and natural forms were adjusted according to principles of geometry and logic to convey the measured order of the scene. Even the profile view of Saint John is in harmony with the classical landscape. This painting may have been part of a projected series on the four Evangelists—in addition to this work, Poussin completed a companion, Landscape with Saint Matthew (1640; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin).


On View, Gallery 209


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Nicolas Poussin


Landscape with Saint John on Patmos


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


100.3 × 136.4 cm (39 1/2 × 53 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

A. A. Munger Collection

Reference Number


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