Notable works included The Seven Sacraments, with contrasts of light and dark ; Dance to the Music of Time, in which Music, Poetry, and Dance were brought together in a painting ; Landscape with Diogenes which gives an expression of mood in which the harmony of nature and the virtue of man are explored. Landscapes are presented as if they were architectural constructions, with clearly defined planes within a finite enclosed space.
During the 1650's Poussin's depiction of religious subject matter became more poignant and his capacity to go to the heart of the subject matter reached a new level of intensity. The Ringling Holy Family, for example, is the most grandiose and severe in conception of all of the Holy Families he painted. This maniera magnifica or magnificent style lasted from about 1655 to his death some ten years later.
In this painting we see an interpretation of the ecstatic vision of St. Paul which he describes in Corinthians ( II Corinthians 12: 2-4). "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven . . . How he was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter".
We see St Paul lifted against a stormy sky by two adult angels and two putti. The angel on the right is wearing a dark blue gown, the one on the left is draped in gold. The saint wears a flaming red mantle over a dark green tunic which provides a fresh contrast with the blue sky that seems to glow with a mystical light. The billowing draperies of the angels creates a sensation of upward lift. St Paul flings his arms out and throws back his head in rapture, giving us the feeling that his frail physical body can tolerate no more of the glorious vision that has been granted him.
The distant landscape at the bottom of the painting takes us up to a dizzying height and gives the figures almost superhuman scale as they fill the small space of the panel. The ground below is shown as only the narrowest band of land.
Painted during the time of the Counter Reformation, this painting fit well with the aims of the Catholic Church which utilized mystery as well as martyrdom in art to impress the faithful and bring them back to the church and away from the heretical Protestant Reformation.