Nicolas Poussin's 'Grande Machine'

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, commissioned Andrew Lacey to re-create a method Nicolas Poussin used to make the initial composition for some of his paintings.

The work specifically relates to the painting Extreme Unction(1642) and is part of the exhibition ‘Silent Partners’.  It illustrates how Poussin would have used a wooden box, known as the ‘Grande Machine’, to create experimental three dimensional compositions to paint from.  This machine resembled a ‘scaled down theatre’ which he used to control the direction of light and back-ground settings of the scene i.e. temples, woodlands, domestic interiors, etc.

In order to manifest these ideas, cabinet maker Robin Williams and artist Sian Lewis collaborated on this project.

Andrew Lacey