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Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)

Chamagne, ca. 1600 - Rome, 1682

The artist trained in his place of birth (initially as a patissier, it seems). Around 1617 he went to Rome and shortly afterwards left for Naples, where he studied under Goffredo Wals for two years or so. He returned to the city of the Tiber and in the Roman artistic environment met the painter Agostino Tassi, from whom he learned the northern European tradition of classical lyrical landscape art in the manner of Elsheimer and Brill. The Italian instilled in him his taste for broad panoramas, seaports and ships, leaving the role of executing figures to other artists. He went back to Lorraine in 1625 only to return to Italy and established himself in the Eternal City in 1627, where he spent the rest of his life.
Claude Lorrain created a new conception of classical landscape art in which the study of light, magnificently differentiated from dawn to sunset, according to time of day and season, is the source of an exquisite elegiac poetry. His art combines the beauty of the Roman countryside or Neapolitan coast with reminiscences of the ancient world based on a bucolic and gentle Virgilian conception that recalls the early Golden Age-serene, subtle and refined, and full of nostalgia, appreciated in the poetic significance of the classical ruins, elegant porticoes and fantastic towers that are reflected in the sea and fade into the dawn mist or glowing twilight. The artist portrays broad spaces that lead the viewer's gaze to a remote background with infinite horizons, while the foreground displays architectural forms and forests, creating an unlimited sensation of depth by means of a soft gradation of colours and progressive blurring of contours. The figures found in his paintings are usually tiny and appear to be submerged in the splendid panoramas in such as way that the subject seems to be a pretext for executing a grand nature scene rather than expressing a narrative theme.
Lorrain proved that the methods of French classicism could be used to extract poetry from inanimate nature; raised to its highest level the study of light and atmosphere as means of creating pictorial and imaginative unity; projected himself onto the 17th and 18th-century French school; and achieved a 19th-century plenitude, becoming a source of inspiration for Turner and Corot, whose technical advances subsequently led to Impressionism.
The Museo del Prado owns one of the best collections of Lorrain's works found in any museum, in terms of both quality and number. They were mostly acquired by Philip IV for the Buen Retiro palace (Luna, J. J.: From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, p. 389).

Artworks (10)

River Ford
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1636
Lorena, Claudio de
Landscape with Saint Mary of Cervelló
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1637
Lorena, Claudio de
Landscape with Saint Onuphrius
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1638
Lorena, Claudio de
Landscape with the Temptations of Saint Anthony
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1638
Lorena, Claudio de
The Embarkation of Saint Paula
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1639
Lorena, Claudio de
Landscape with the Burial of Saint Serapia
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1639
Lorena, Claudio de
Setting out with the Herd
Oil on canvas, 1636 - 1637
Lorena, Claudio de
The Finding of Moses
Oil on canvas, 1639 - 1640
Lorena, Claudio de
The Archangel Raphael and Tobias
Oil on canvas, 1639 - 1640
Lorena, Claudio de

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