Extreme Unction by Nicolas Poussin

The artist is considered the greatest classical French painter of the 17th century.


Oil on canvas
95.5 x 121 cm
Art Fund grant:
£100,000 ( Total: £3,865,101)
Acquired in:
Trustees of the 10th Duke of Rutland's Poussin Settlement

In the 1630s he was commissioned by the antiquarian Cassiano dal Pozzo to depict the seven Sacraments in a set of paintings. For five of the Sacraments he chose scenes from the Bible, but for ‘Confirmation’ and ‘Extreme Unction’ he depicted liturgical scenes in the life of the early Church. The set was received with great enthusiasm and was a ‘must see’ for visitors to Rome on the Grand Tour. The painting will be a wonderful addition to the Baroque paintings at the museum, hanging alongside other pictures by French artists who visited Rome and near to paintings by Italian artists who worked or lived there. The painting greatly strengthen the museum's potential for teaching at all levels, particularly in out-reach programmes where the subject matter will be of considerable interest. Poussin’s beautiful and sensitive depiction of the moment just before death will encourage comparison with the way people of different cultures and beliefs approach death and bereavement. The work was secured after a successful fundraising campaign led by the Art Fund and the Fitzwilliam where almost £1 million was donated from the public and charities, including a £100,000 grant from the Art Fund and contributions from almost 3,000 of our members which brought in an extra £142,000.


Commissioned by Cavaliere Cassiano dal Pozzo; by inheritance to his brother, Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo; by descent to his grandson, Cosimo Antonio dal Pozzo; by inheritance to his daughter, Maria Laura dal Pozzo Boccapaduli; by inheritance to the Boccapadul

Venue details

Fitzwilliam Museum Trumpington Street, CAMBRIDGE Cambridgeshire CB2 1RB 01223 332900 www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

Entry details

Free to all

Tue – Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun & Bank Holidays 12noon – 5pm Closed Mon, 24 – 26, 31 Dec and 1 Jan