Between 1624 and about 1635, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) produced a series of mythological paintings that depict women looking at passive men. Read by modern commentators as a sign of the painter's fear of women, these pictures have contributed to the myth that this artist created predominantly masculine works of art. Laying aside\ud biographical interpretation, this thesis investigates the relationship between Poussin's representations of masculinity and femininity and the social affairs of the gentlemen who bought these paintings.\ud \ud In order to address fully the paintings' unusual iconography, it has been necessary to take into account the importance of femininity in the sociality that\ud permeated Poussin's visual repertoire. I analyse how culturally constructed gendered positions of viewing informed the design of these paintings and the kinds of viewing that occurred before them. By considering the social possibilities, the pictorial processes, and the physical locations through which these paintings affected their patrons, I establish that a connection existed between social experience and Poussin's representations of gendered looking. This discussion sets the parameters for an\ud examination of how these paintings related intimately to the familial and status concerns of the painter's Roman clientele. I aim to demonstrate that Poussin's early mythological paintings functioned within a complex visual culture where gentlemen sought to utilise representations of powerful women positively. At the same time, this thesis attempts to restore aspects of femininity to perceptions of the gender of Poussin's early artistic production
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