Poussin is, in the strict sense of the word, an historical painter.

Michael Angelo is too intent on the sublime, too much occupied with the effect of the whole, to tell a common history. His conceptions are epic, and his persons, and his colors, have as little to do with ordinary life, as the violent action of his actors have resemblance to the usually indolent state of ordinary men.

Raffaelle's figures interest so much in themselves, that they make us forget that they are only part of a history. We follow them eagerly, as we do the personages of a drama; we grieve, we hope, we despair, we rejoice with them.

Poussin's figures, on the contrary, tell their story; we feel not the intimate acquaintance with themselves, that we do with the creations of Raffaelle. His Cicero would thunder in the forum and dissipate a conspiracy, and we should take leave of him with respect at the end of the scene; but with Raffaelle's we should feel in haste to quit the tumult, and retire with him to his Tusculum, and learn to love the virtues, and almost to cherish the weaknesses of such a man.

Poussin has shown that grace and expression may be independent of what is commonly called beauty. His women have none of that soft, easy, and attractive air, which many other painters have found the secret of imparting, not only to their Venuses and Graces, but to their Madonnas and Saints. His beauties are austere and dignified. Minerva and the Muses appear to have been his models, rather than the inhabitants of Mount Cithæron. Hence subjects of action are more suited to him than those of repose.—Graham's Life of Poussin.