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Claude Lorrain

Claude Lorrain

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Claude Lorrain, traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French Claude Gellée, (ʒəle), dit le Lorrain) (c. 1600 – 21 or 23 November 1682) was an artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

 of the Baroque era who was active in Italy, and is admired for his achievements in landscape painting.

Early years

Claude was born in 1604 or 1605 into poverty in the town of Chamagne
Chamagne is a commune in the Vosges department in Lorraine in northeastern France....

, Vosges in Lorraine
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

 – then the Duchy of Lorraine, an independent state until 1766 and now in northeast France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. He was one of five children. His actual name was Claude Gellée, but he is better known by the province in which he was born. Orphaned by age of twelve, he went to live at Freiburg
Freiburg im Breisgau is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In the extreme south-west of the country, it straddles the Dreisam river, at the foot of the Schlossberg. Historically, the city has acted as the hub of the Breisgau region on the western edge of the Black Forest in the Upper Rhine Plain...

 with an elder brother, Jean Gellée, a woodcarver. He afterwards went to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 to seek a livelihood and then to Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, where he apprenticed for two years, from 1619 to 1621, under Goffredo (Gottfried) Wals. He returned to Rome in April 1625 and was apprenticed to Agostino Tassi
Agostino Tassi
Agostino Tassi was an Italian painter, mostly of landscapes and seascapes, who is now best known as the rapist of Artemisia Gentileschi....

. He got into a fight with Leonaert Bramer
Leonaert Bramer
Leonaert/Leonard Bramer alias Nestelghat was a Dutch painter, best known for probably being one of the teachers of Johannes Vermeer, although there is no similarity between their work. Bramer's dark and exotic style is unlike Vermeer's style...


He apparently was able to tour in Italy, France and Germany, including his native Lorraine, suffering numerous misadventures. Claude Deruet
Claude Deruet
Claude Deruet was a famous French Baroque painter of the 17th century, from the city of Nancy.-Biography:Deruet was an apprentice to Jacques Bellange, the official court painter to Charles III, Duke of Lorraine. He was in Rome between ca. 1612 and 1619, where - according to André Félibien - he...

, painter to the duke of Lorraine, kept him as assistant for a year; and at Nancy he painted architectural subjects on the ceiling of the Carmelite church.

Mature works

In 1627 Claude returned to Rome. Here, two landscapes made for Cardinal Bentivoglio earned him the patronage of Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII , born Maffeo Barberini, was pope from 1623 to 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions...

. From about 1637 he rapidly achieved fame as a painter of landscapes and seascapes. He apparently befriended his fellow Frenchman Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin was a French painter in the classical style. His work predominantly features clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color. His work serves as an alternative to the dominant Baroque style of the 17th century...

; together they would travel the Roman Campagna, sketching landscapes. Though both have been called landscape painters, in Poussin the landscape is a background to the figures; whereas for Claude, despite figures in one corner of the canvas, the true subjects are the land, the sea, and the air. By report, he often engaged other artists to paint the figures for him, including Courtois
Jacques Courtois
Jacques Courtois was a French painter.-Biography:He was born at Saint-Hippolyte, near Besançon. His father was a painter, and with him Jacques remained studying up to the age of fifteen...

 and Filippo Lauri
Filippo Lauri
Filippo Lauri was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, active mainly in Rome.Born and active in Rome, his story was featured in the biographies by Baldinucci...

. He remarked to those purchasing his pictures that he sold them the landscape; the figures were gratis.

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. Claude, who suffered much from gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

, died in Rome on either 21 November or 23 November 1682, leaving his considerable wealth between his only surviving relatives, a nephew and an adopted daughter (possibly his niece). Originally buried in Santissima Trinità al Monte Pincio (commonly known as Trinità al Monte).

Critical assessment and legacy

In Rome, not until the mid-17th century were landscapes deemed fit for serious painting. Northern Europeans working there, such as Elsheimer and Brill
Paul Brill
Paul Brill is a multiple Emmy Award-nominated composer, songwriter and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. He has scored dozens of feature films, television series and commercials, most notably including: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, The Devil Came on Horseback, The Trials of Darryl Hunt,...

, had made such views pre-eminent in some of their paintings (as well as Da Vinci in his private drawings http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/object.asp?theme=LANDSCAPE&object=912409&row=0 or Baldassarre Peruzzi in his decorative frescoes of vedute); but not until Annibale Carracci
Annibale Carracci
Annibale Carracci was an Italian Baroque painter.-Early career:Annibale Carracci was born in Bologna, and in all likelihood first apprenticed within his family...

 and his pupil Domenichino do we see landscape become the focus of a canvas by a major Italian artist. Even with the latter two, as with Claude, the stated themes of the paintings were mythic or religious. Landscape as a subject was distinctly unclassical and secular. The former quality was not consonant with Renaissance art, which boasted its rivalry with the work of the ancients. The second quality had less public patronage in Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 Rome, which prized subjects worthy of "high painting," typically religious or mythic scenes. Pure landscape, like pure still-life or genre painting, reflected an aesthetic viewpoint regarded as lacking in moral seriousness. Rome, the theological and philosophical center of 17th century Italian art, was not quite ready for such a break with tradition.

In this matter of the importance of landscape, Claude 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.

Claude Lorrain was described as kind to his pupils and hard-working; keenly observant, but an unlettered man until his death. The painter Joachim von Sandrart
Joachim von Sandrart
Joachim von Sandrart was a German Baroque art-historian and painter, active in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age.-Biography:Sandrart was born in Frankfurt, but the family originated from Mons...

 is an authority for Claude's life (Academia Artis Pictoriae, 1683); Baldinucci
Filippo Baldinucci
Filippo Baldinucci was an Italian art historian and biographer.-Life:Baldinucci is considered among the most significant Florentine biographers/historians of the artists and the arts of the Baroque period...

, who obtained information from some of Claude's immediate survivors, relates various incidents to a different effect (Notizie dei professoni del disegno).

John Constable
John Constable
John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...

 described Claude 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".

Selected works

  • Landscape with Merchants (The Shipwreck) (1630) - National Gallery of Art
    National Gallery of Art
    The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

    , Washington, D.C.
  • Landscape with Goatherd (1636) - National Gallery, London
  • The Ford (1636) - Metropolitan Museum, NY
  • Port with Villa Medici (1637) - Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

  • Finding of Moses (1638) - Oil on canvas, 209 x 138 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid
  • Pastoral Landscape, (1638) Minneapolis Institute of Arts
    Minneapolis Institute of Arts
    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a fine art museum located in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, on a campus that covers nearly 8 acres , formerly Morrison Park...

  • Seaport (1639) - National Gallery, London
  • Seaport at Sunset (Odysseus) (1639) - Oil on canvas, 119 x 150 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • View of Campagna (c. 1639) - Oil on canvas, 101.6 x 135.9 cm, Royal Collections
  • Embarkation of Saint Paula Romana at Ostia (1639) - Oil on canvas, 211 x 145 cm, Museo del Prado
    Museo del Prado
    The Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of...

    , Madrid
    Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

  • The Embarkation of St. Ursula (1641) - National Gallery, London
    National Gallery, London
    The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media...

  • The Disembarkation of Cleopatra at Tarsus (1642) - oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
  • The Disembarkation of Cleopatra at Tarsus (1642–43) - Oil on canvas, 119 x 170 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • The Trojan Women Setting Fire to their Fleet - Metropolitan Museum, NY
  • Brook and Two Bridges - Oil on canvas, 74 x 58 cm,
  • Voyage of Jacob
  • The Angel's Visit
  • View of the Church Santa Trinità Dei Monti - drawing, Hermitage, St. Petersburg
  • Seaport with Castle - Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
  • View of Tivoli at Sunset (1644) - San Francisco Museum of Art
  • Mercury Stealing Apollo's Oxen (1645) - Oil on canvas, 55 x 45 cm, Galleria Doria-Pamphilj, Rome
  • Landscape with Cephalus and Procris reunited by Diana (1645) - Oil on canvas, 102 x 132 cm, National Gallery, London
    National Gallery, London
    The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media...

  • The Judgement of Paris (1645–46) - National Gallery of Art at Washington D.C.
  • Sunrise (1646–47) - Metropolitan Museum, New York
  • Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba (1648) - National Gallery, London
  • Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah (1648) - National Gallery, London
  • Landscape with Paris and Oenone (1648) - Oil on canvas, 119 x 150 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • Landscape with Dancing Figures (The Mill) (1648) - Oil on canvas, 150,6 x 197,8 cm, Galleria Doria-Pamphili, Rome
  • View of La Crescenza (1648–50) - Oil on canvas, 38.7 x 58.1 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1651 or 1661) - Oil on canvas, 113 x 157 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
  • Landscape with Mercury and Battus (1654) - Oil on canvas, 74 x 98 cm, Swiss private collection
  • Landscape with Hagar and the Angel (1654) - Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 76 cm, Dunedin Public Art Gallery
    Dunedin Public Art Gallery
    The Dunedin Public Art Gallery holds the main public art collection of the city of Dunedin, New Zealand. Located in The Octagon in the heart of the city, it is close to the city's public library, municipal chambers, and other facilities such as the Regent Theatre.-History:The gallery was founded by...

    , Dunedin.
  • Landscape with Acis and Galatea (1657) - Oil on canvas, 100 x 135 cm, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden
  • Landscape with Apollo and Mercury (1660) - Oil on canvas, 74,5 x 110,5 cm, Wallace Collection, London
  • Landscape with a dance (The Marriage of Isaac and Rebeccah (1663) - Drawinghttp://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/object.asp?theme=LANDSCAPE&object=913076&row=8
  • Coast Scene with the Rape of Europa (1667) - Oil on canvas, 134,6 x 101,6 cm, Royal Collection, London
  • The Expulsion of Hagar (1668) - Oil on canvas, 107 x 140 cm, Alte Pinakothek, Munich
  • Seaport (1674) - Oil on canvas, 72 x 96 cm, Alte Pinakothek, Munich
  • Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia
    Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia
    Landscape with Ascanius shooting the Stag of Sylvia is an oil on canvas painting by Claude Lorrain, a painter of the style of Classicism. It depicts a scene from Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid, where Aeneas's son Ascanius shoots a pet stag, provoking a war...

    (1682) - Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
  • View of a Seaport - The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Further reading

  • CHIARINI, Marco. CLAUDE LORRAIN - Selected Drawings. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968.

  • Michael Kitson
    Michael Kitson
    Michael William Lely Kitson was an English art historian.-Background:...

    , Claude Lorrain, Liber veritatis (British Museum Publications, London, 1978) ISBN 0-7141-0748-4

  • RUSSEL, H. Diane, Claude Lorrain, 1600–1682, New York, George Braziller, 1982.

  • LAGERLÖF, Margaretha Rossholm, Ideal Landscape: Annibale Carracci, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1990.

External links