Nicholas Poussin, Rembrandt, Annibale Carracci
Two artists have been plausibly suggested as the creators of the original image from which Melville’s mezzotint was made. Lynn Horth in her headnote to the 1869 note to Dexter suggests that the original artwork was “probably the painting by Nicolas Poussin of Christ healing the blind man of Jericho, painted in 1651, at the Louvre” (NN CO 409). That painting by Poussin is arguably the best-known artwork depicting the subject, and Melville did spend one glorious afternoon at the Louvre in November 1849 (NN J 31). There he “victoriously ran that painted gauntlet of the gods,” as he recalled three years later in the last chapter of Pierre (NN P 350). Melville’s sustained interest in engravings after paintings by Poussin is attested by the eight prints that survive from his collection today (CAT 136-143). Anthony Blunt lists five engravings after Christ heading the Blind Men in his catalog raisonné of Poussin’s work, but none of them are identified as mezzotints (Blunt, cat. no. 74, p. 52; see fig. 2 below).