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The Finding of Moses
Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)
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Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)

Chamagne, 1600 - Rome, 1682

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The Finding of Moses

1639 - 1640. Oil on canvas.
Room 002

A broad landscape is the setting for Moses’s rescue from the Nile River by the Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter and her retinue. In the foreground, a shepherd sleeps, indifferent to the events taking place behind him. The lush landscape, flowing river with a bridge, and the city in the background to the right are artistic license, and the original vegetation is evoked by only one element: the palm tree on the river’s right bank.

Vague relations have been drawn between the architectural elements in this painting and the outskirts of Rome, as the right part of the city distantly recalls the Port of San Paolo (Porta Ostiense). Lorrain used a literal copy of this landscape, without the figures, in his Rest on the Flight to Egypt (1645, The Cleveland Museum of Art; Roethlisberger 1961) and a part of it in Landscape with Shepherds (1641, Castle Howard, Howard Collection; Roethlisberger 1961), which includes the same bridge, the river and some trees taken directly from the Museo del Prado’s painting. In Roethlisberger’s opinion (1961), Herman van Swanevelt conceived his Landscape with a River and Anglers (P2141) by imitating what is presented here. While the two artist’s close relation has been proven, the supposed link between these two paintings is too generic to justify allegations of dependence on the part of the Dutch painter. It seems more likely that the similarity is due to both artists’ response to the same indications from Madrid, which were issued in order to create a group of works with a unified appearance.

This painting was part of the second series of vertical landscapes commissioned by Philip IV for Madrid’s Buen Retiro Palace. Lorrain is customarily though to have conceived his four paintings from this second series in two pairs, with the present work accompanied by his Burial of Saint Serapia (P2252), which is supposed to share compositional and narrative similarities. There are, however, reasons to relate it with The Archangel Raphael and Tobias (P2255). The years 1639-40 are unanimously accepted as the dates for this and the other three works in the series, as Roethlisberger proposed in 1961. In fact, the most solid argument in favor of this chronology is its position in the Liber Varitatis, the notebook in which Claude Lorrain copied many of his own compositions. Following Baldinucci, he began that notebook with the commissions from Madrid. Comparison with the works by other painters who participated in that commission allows us to confirm not only the chronology, but also the order of the two series, which shows that the pair with horizontal formats was the first. The sketch of this painting in the Liber Veritatis bears an inscription in Lorrain’s own hand that reads: quadro per il Re di Spagna. The following work has a similar inscription, although in a different ink: Claudio fecit in V.R.

The formidable campaign of arts acquisitions carried out by the Count-Duke of Olivares in the 1640s to decorate the vast spaces at Madrid’s Buen Retiro Palace included a very notable number of landscapes. Of these works -almost two hundred in all- we cannot determine how many were purchased in Flanders or Spain, nor which ones came from private collections or other Royal Seats, but thanks to the works at the Museo del Prado and documents found to date, we can establish with certainty that the Buen Retiro Palace was furnished with numerous landscapes painted for the occasion by artists active in Rome.

A series of at least twenty-five landscapes with anchorites and a dozen Italianate landscapes -large format works by different artists- were commissioned. Of the pieces that have survived, most are at the Museo del Prado.

Commissioned in Rome between 1633 and 1641, these landscape paintings from the Buen Retiro constituted an early anthology of this new painting from nature characterized by a new awareness of the effects of light and the atmosphere of the Roman countryside that would eventually spread through most of Europe, representing one of many aspects of classicism (Text drawn from Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 230-232; Capitelli, G. in Úbeda de los Cobos, A.: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, p. 241).


Technical data

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Inventory number
Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)
The Finding of Moses
1639 - 1640
Height: 209 cm; Width: 138 cm
Paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, [no. 164]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, 1772; Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, no. 474; Royal Palace, Madrid, "secretaría de Estado", 1814-1818, no. 474).

Bibliography +

Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real, Madrid, 1772.

Baldinucci, F.([1681-1728], 1845-47, V, p. 93), Notizie de' professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua, V, Florencia, 1845-47, pp. 93.

Roethlisberger, Marcel, Claude Lorrain: the Paintings, Hacker Art Books, New Haven, 1961, pp. 180, 243-44 y 196-98.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Luna, Juan José, Precisiones sobre las pinturas de Claudio de Lorena en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, II, 1981, pp. 103.

Kinzgett, CH.; Naughton, G.; Agnew, J., Claude Lorrain 1600-1682. An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, Agnew and Sons, Londres, 1982.

Russell, D., Claude Gellée dit Le Lorrain: 1600-1682, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 1983.

Roethlisberger, Marcel, Im Licht Von Claude Lorrain : Landchftsmalerei Aus Drei Jahr, Hirmer Verlag, Munchen, 1983.

Claudio de Lorena y el ideal clásico de paisaje en el siglo, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1984, pp. 144.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 373.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. 263.

La Cartuja Recuperada. Sevilla 1986-1992, Junta de Andalucia, Sevilla, 1992.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 502.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 279.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 180.

Capitelli, Giovanna, Los paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro, En: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 272-274.

Turner and the masters, Tate, Londres, 2009, pp. 136.

Turner et ses peintres, Réunion des musées nationaux, París, 2010, pp. 148-149.

Turner, J. M. W. (Joseph Mallord William) (1775-1851), Turner y los maestros, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2010, pp. 138-139.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, El paisaje nórdico en el Prado: Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 144-145, 165 / 53.

Roma naturaleza e ideal: paisajes 1600-1650, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2011, pp. 43, 192-3.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Rubens, Brueghel, Lorrain. A Paisagem Nórdica do Museu do Prado, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga - INCM - Museo Nacional del Prado, Lisboa, 2013, pp. 142,161 n.53.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [164].
[164] Un Pais de dos Uaras y media de alto y siette quartas de ancho del Ytaliano Con el subzeso de Moyses quando le hallo la hija de faraon en la Zesttica Con marco tallado y dorado tasado en ochenta doblones... 4.800

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1986.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 474.
{2837} 474. Otra [pintura] de Gasparo Pusino. Un Pais con la hija de Faraon sacando a Moises de las aguas, de dos varas y media de alto, y vara y tres quartas de ancho, marco antiguo: ... 5000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 474.
Secretaría de Estado [...] {22244} 474 / Dos varas y media de alto, vara y cuarta ancho, pais con varias figuras Moises sacado de las aguas = Benito Manuel

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 947.
Claudio de Lorena. / 947. Pais. / Se ve en lontananza una ciudad situada junto a un rio, que ameniza el paisage y forma mas abajo una pintoresca cascada. A la izquierda del espectador se eleva un grupo de frondosos arboles, y en primer termino se divisa a la hija de faraon recibiendo al niño Moises salvado de las aguas del Nilo. / Las figuras estan ejecutadas por Guillermo Courtois, hermano de Bourguignon, escepto la del pastor que esta durmiendo en el primer termino, que es del mismo Claudio. (C.L.) / Alto 7 pies, 6 pulg; ancho 4 pies, 11 pulg, 6 lin

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
03.12.2013 - 30.03.2014

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
Palma de Mallorca
20.06.2013 - 29.09.2013

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
14.03.2013 - 02.06.2013

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
20.12.2012 - 24.02.2013

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
25.09.2012 - 25.11.2012

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
Santiago de Compostela
01.12.2011 - 18.03.2012

Rome: Nature and the Ideal. Landscapes 1600-1650
05.07.2011 - 25.09.2011

Nature et idéal. Le paysage à Rome 1600-1650 - Landscape
08.03.2011 - 06.06.2011

Turner and the Masters
22.06.2010 - 19.09.2010

Turner y los maestros
22.02.2010 - 23.05.2010

Turner y los maestros
23.09.2009 - 31.01.2010

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

El paisaje mediterráneo
05.06.1992 - 12.10.1992

Location +

Room 002 (On Display)

Update date: 23-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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