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One of two conflicting currents in French art, the one supporting the balanced, intellectually rigorous art of Poussin, the other the more colourful and sensual manner of Rubens (Rubénisme). This dichotomy was debated at length during the so-called Querelle du coloris (‘Dispute on colour’) which lasted 1672–8. It was instigated by the criticism voiced by the painter Philippe de Champagne at a lecture given at the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1671 in which he denigrated the painting of Titian, but praised the art of the recently deceased Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665). The Poussinistes took the mature work of Poussin as their point of departure and also admired classical sculpture and Raphael. Theirs was an essentially academic canon which valued design, decorum, and the correct expression of the passions, and they had a powerful supporter in the Director of the Academy, the painter Charles le Brun. Essentially, the Poussin/Rubens debate was a restatement of the design versus colour debate in Italian art which had surfaced during the Renaissance and whose champions were Florence and Rome on the one hand, and Venice on the other. Poussinisme continued to be the inspiration of classically minded artists in France until the early 19th century.

Subjects: Art.

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