Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun

Dublin Core


Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun


For his depiction of the gigantic hunter, Poussin drew on the Greek writer Lucian (De domo 27–29): "Orion, who is blind, is carrying Cedalion, and the latter, riding on his back, is showing him the way to the sunlight. The rising sun is healing [his] blindness." Poussin also studied a 16th-century commentary on the tale by Natalis Comes which affords a meteorological interpretation. Accordingly he added Diana, standing upon the clouds that wreathe Orion's face, symbol of the power of the moon to gather the earth's vapors and turn them into rain. Toward the end of his life, Poussin scrutinized pebbles, moss, flowers and plants, and his landscapes—such as this one, painted for Michel Passart in 1658—evoke the earth's early history in showing nature abundant and uncultivated.


Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome)



Date Available



Fletcher Fund, 1924
Michel Passart, Paris (1658–at least 1684 [d. 1692]; inv., February 14–26, 1684 [following the death of Mme Passart in November 1683, who left a half share of the paintings that belonged to the couple to their son, Antoine-Michel], probably one of the two landscapes by Poussin, nos. 43 and 46, valued at 1500 livres each); possibly his son, Antoine-Michel Passart, Paris (d. 1684); Pierre de Beauchamp, Paris (by 1687); private collection, Paris (until 1739; sold for 600 livres to Godefroy and Godefroid); [Charles Godefroy and Ferdinand-Joseph Godefroid, Paris, 1739–43; sold for 950 livres to Hay]; [Andrew Hay, London, 1743–45; his sale, Cock, London, February 14–15, 1745, no. 46, for £31.10.0 to Rutland]; John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland, Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire (1745–58; his sale, London, [dates unknown] 1758, no. 60, for £53.11 to Reynolds); Sir Joshua Reynolds, London (from 1758; sold for 500 gns. to Calonne); Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, Paris (until 1795; sale, Skinner and Dyke, London, March 23–28, 1795, no. 98, as purchased from Sir Joshua Reynolds, for £131.5 to Bryan [i.e. bought in by Calonne's mortgagees]); Bryan's Gallery (sale by private treaty, April 27, 1795, no. 135); Noël Desenfans (sale of pictures bought by him for the King of Poland, Skinner and Dyke, London, March 16–18, 1802, no. 172, for £157.10 to Potts [bought in?]); [Philippe Panné, London, until d.; sale of his remaining stock, Christie's, London, March 26, 1819, no. 63, for £116.11 to Bonnemaison]; chevalier Férréol de Bonnemaison, Paris (1819–20; sold for 600 livres); Reverend John Sanford, vicar of Nynehead Court, Somerset (1820–at least 1847; cats., 1838, no. 184, and 1847, p. 9); his son-in-law, Frederick Henry Paul Methuen, 2nd Baron Methuen [who married Anna Horatia Caroline Sanford], Corsham Court, Chippenham Wiltshire (by 1857–d.1891); their son, Paul Sanford Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen, Corsham Court, Chippenham Wiltshire (1891–about 1924; cat. 1903, p. 60; sold to Durlacher with Tancred Borenius as intermediary); [Durlacher, London and New York, 1924; sold to MMA]

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

oil on canvas

Physical Dimensions

46 7/8 x 72 in. (119.1 x 182.9 cm)



Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome) , “Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun,” Mapping Mythology: A Digital Collection of Classical Mythology in Post-Antique Art, accessed March 23, 2018,