Artibus et Historiae no. 24 (XII)

1991, ISSN 0391-9064

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CHRISTINE M. BOECKL - A New Reading of Nicolas Poussin's The Miracle of the Ark in the Temple of Dagon

The original title of The Plague at Ashdod in the Louvre, Il miraculo dell' Arca nel tempio di Agone, is the point of departure for an alternate reading of the painting based on Samuel iconography, plague imagery, and textual sources which were ignored in the past. Nicolas Poussin's aim was not simply to paint two episodes from the Book of Samuel, as has hitherto been claimed, but rather to represent the culmination of a chain of events that foreshadowed not only the future of the Jews but that of Christianity as well. It becomes apparent that the artist wove a rich pattern of symbolism which implies the Augustinian conception of a divine plan governing history, as prefigured in the medieval typology of the widely popular Biblia Pauperum.

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