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Painting in Focus: Nicolas Poussin’s Extreme Unction

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)
Extreme Unction, c.1638-40
Oil on canvas
© The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

Throughout 2015 Nicolas Poussin’s Extreme Unction will be on tour to three public museums – the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford – all of which have works by this artist on display.

Extreme Unction was acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2012 through the HM Government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, and numerous charities and public donations. It is the most important old master painting to enter the museum’s collection for over a century, and makes a notable addition to the permanent collection of 17th-century French paintings alongside other celebrated works by Poussin and his contemporaries, Claude Lorrain, Jacques Stella and Simon Vouet. Most importantly, the national tour provides the opportunity for widespread public engagement with, and enjoyment of, one of Poussin’s greatest masterpieces.

The painting goes on tour to:

  • Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool Friday 6 March – Sunday 7 June 2015
  • Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh Friday 12 June – Sunday 13 September 2015
  • Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Friday 18 September – Sunday 13 December 2015

Three paintings belonging to the series - Marriage, Eucharist and Confirmation - have been generously placed on long-term loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum by The Trustees of the 11th Duke of Rutland’s 2000 Settlement. These works will be on public display from the beginning of July 2015.

The acquisition of Extreme Unction for the Fitzwilliam Museum and the UK tour has been generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund.