After Claude Lorrain (circa. 1604 - 1682)


After Claude Lorrain (circa. 1604 - 1682) 


Oil on Canvas, 132 x 100cm / 149 x 115cm

Claude Lorrain, born Gellee, in Vosges in Lorraine - then the Duchy of Lorraine, an independent state until 1766, one of five children, orphaned at twelve, went to live at Freiburg then moved to Rome and then to Naples, where he apprenticed for two years, from 1619 to 1621, under Goffredo (Gottfried) Wals. In 1625, returning to Rome he  became apprenticed to Augustin Tassi. He toured widely through Italy, France and Germany and at Nancy he painted architectural subjects on the ceiling of the Carmelite church. In 1627 Lorrain returned to Rome. Two landscapes made for Cardinal Bentivoglio earned him the patronage of Pope Urban VIII. From about 1637 he rapidly achieved fame as a painter of landscapes and seascapes. He apparently befriended his fellow Frenchman Nicolas Poussin; together they would travel the Roman Campagna, sketching landscapes. 

In order to avoid repetition of subjects, and also to expose the many spurious copies of his works, he made tinted outline drawings (in six paper books prepared for this purpose) of all those pictures sent to different countries; and on the back of each drawing he wrote the name of the purchaser. These volumes he named the Liber Veritatis (Book of Truth). This valuable work, engraved and published, has always been highly esteemed by students of the art of landscape. 

Landscape as a subject was considered unclassical and secular. Pure landscape, like pure still life painting or genre, was considered lacking in moral seriousness - in comparison to the prized mythic or religious scenes of this time. 

In this matter of the importance of landscape, Lorrain was prescient. Living in a pre-Romantic era, he did not depict those uninhabited panoramas that were to be esteemed in later centuries, such as with Salvatore Rosa. He painted a pastoral world of fields and valleys not distant from castles and towns. If the ocean horizon is represented, it is from the setting of a busy port. Perhaps to feed the public need for paintings with noble themes, his pictures include demigods, heroes and saints, even though his abundant drawings and sketchbooks prove that he was more interested in scenography.

John Constable described Claude Lorrain as "the most perfect landscape painter the world ever saw", and declared that in Claude's landscape "all is lovely - all amiable - all is amenity and repose; the calm sunshine of the heart". (From Wikipedia)