In 1639, Poussin was invited to Paris by Louis XIII., who honored him on this occasion with the following autograph letter, which was an extraordinary and unusual homage to art:

"Dear and well beloved,

"Some of our especial servants having made a report to us of the reputation which you have acquired, and the rank which you hold among the best and most famous painters of Italy; and we being desirous, in imitation of our predecessors, to contribute, as much as lies in us, to the ornament and decoration of our royal houses, by fixing around us those who excel in the arts, and whose attainments in them have attracted notice in the places where those arts are most cherished, do therefore write you this letter, to acquaint you that we have chosen and appointed you to be one of our painters in ordinary, and that, henceforward, we will employ you in that capacity. To this effect our intention is, that on the receipt of this present, you shall dispose yourself to come hither, where the services you perform shall meet with as much consideration as do your merits and your works, in the place where you now reside. By our order, given to M. de Noyers, you will learn more particularly the favor we have determined to shew you. We will add nothing to this present, but to pray God to have you in his holy keeping.

"Given at Fontainebleau,
Jan. 15, 1639."

Poussin accepted the invitation with great reluctance, at the earnest solicitation of his friends. On his arrival at Paris he was received with marked distinction, appointed principal painter to the king, with a pension, and accommodated with apartments in the Tuileries. He was commissioned to paint an altar-piece for the chapel of St. Germain en Laie, where he produced his admirable work of the Last Supper, and was engaged to decorate the Gallery of the Louvre with the Labors of Hercules. He had already prepared the designs and some of the cartoons for these works, when he was assailed by the machinations of Simon Vouet and his adherents; and even the landscape painter Fouquieres, jealous of his fame, presumed to criticise his works and detract from their merit.