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For the purpose of giving an idea of the sacrament of Penitence, Poussin has represented the moment of its institution. Christ being at table in the house of Simon the pharisee; a woman,whose name the Gospel does not mention, came and stood at Jesus' feet, and bathing them with tears, she wiped them with the hairs of her head; she kissed and anointed them with ointment. Simon, thinking that Jesus was not aware she was a sinner, blamed him inwardly for letting himself be approached by such a woman; but the Saviour knowing his thoughts, said to him : « I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven for she loved much.. And to the woman : « Thy. sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.».

It is this picture, which Poussin began immediately after that of Confirmation. When he sent it to M. de Chantelou, he wrote to the latter, February 4, 1646: «I am now working at a Triclinium, which , I think, will give you pleasure, after that, I shall do the Baptism of Christ. » But it appears that Poussin interrupted his work, to set about the Sacrament of Baptism, as it is that, which he sent, the third, in February, 1646; whilst that of Penitence did not leave Rome before the month of June. It was then he wrote : « I now send you, Penitence, which I have finished : I know not if it will suffice to obliterate the trespass of former faults. I shall give you no prologue to my picture, for the subject is so represented, that to me, it appears to need no interpreter, provided only the Scriptures have been read.

Width, 5 feet 8 inches; height, 3 feet 10 inches.

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