Claude Lorrain was an outstanding French landscape painter of the 17th century, a prominent representative of the art of classicism. Claude Lorrain’s work is associated with historical and mythological motives, touches upon biblical plots, but they all dissolve in an elegiac mood that permeates nature. The painter’s paintings depict human figures with the character of staffage: they bring landscapes to life, playing a secondary role in them.
Claude Lorrain created a type of idyllic landscape. His works have three plans, each of which has its own palette. The action seems to unfold on the stage, which corresponds to the spirit of classicism.
Claude Lorrain, whose true surname was Jelly or Gellee (Gelee, Gellee), comes from a family of peasants, a native of Lorraine, one of the provinces of France. Born in 1600, the boy was left an orphan early. His first mentor in teaching drawing was his older brother Jean, who made a living by carving wood. At the age of thirteen, Claude, along with his relatives, went to Rome, where he worked as a servant for the famous landscape painter Agostino Tassi, while learning some of the master’s techniques.
Then in the period 1617-1621. he lived in Naples, already a student of the German painter Gottfried Wels. He taught his ward the skills of perspective and architecture. It was here that Claude Lorrain was fascinated by the portrayal of marine and coastal nature pictures. Subsequently, such landscapes became an important part of his work.
In 1625, the artist returned to his native Lorraine, where he created landscape frescoes to order, decorating cathedrals and mansions of influential townspeople. However, a year later, Claude Lorrain again came to Rome, here he stayed until the end of his life. The master was increasingly attracted to easel painting. His first work, “Landscape with a Flock and a Peasant”, which has survived to this day, dates back to 1629.
Since 1630 the painter began to keep a catalog of his own works, for 50 years he has documented about 200 works. So Lorrain sought to protect them from counterfeiting, because already from the beginning of the 1630s. they tried to imitate his creative manner.
In 1633, Claude Lorrain was admitted to the Academy of St. Luke
And later, in 1643, to the Union of Virtuosos. He was a member of the “Migratory Birds Club” that was the name of the community of visiting artists in the capital of Italy. Many painters often visited the landscape painter’s house, especially he became close to Nicolas Poussin, Pieter van Laer, together they created sketches outside the city.
Claude Lorrain carefully studied the laws of the picturesque proportions of nature, admired its greatness, painted landscapes with various combinations of trees, water, architectural buildings. He could watch the sky all day to figure out how best to depict a sunrise or sunset. The master drew people without much inspiration, often friends or students did it for him.
Lorrain’s customers and buyers were aristocrats, many famous people: the monarch of Spain Philip IV (Felipe IV), Pope Urban VIII (Urbanus PP. VIII), Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona, French ambassador to the Vatican. The master did not need money, he rented a mansion in the central part of Rome. The artist was not married, but had an illegitimate daughter, Agnes. She became the sole heir to Claude Lorrain after his death on November 23, 1682.
The most famous paintings by Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain’s paintings are true masterpieces of the landscape genre of the Classicism era. Among the most outstanding works are the following:
- “The Arrival of Cleopatra in Tarsus” (1642) the sun on the canvas resembles gold, it is not for nothing that his fellow workers gave Lorrain the nickname “fire-worshiper”. The sky is striking in its variety of shades.
- “Landscape with a Sacrifice to Apollo” (1662) in the painting, the horizontal and vertical lines are in harmony with each other, and the alternating light and shadows carry the viewer deep into the composition.
- “Morning” (1666) the work breathes with freshness, the outlines of a large tree dissolve in the silvery-blue light. Antique ruins in the background bring a shade of sadness to the poetic dawn.
- “The Abduction of Europa” (1667) a mythological plot associated with the daughter of the Phoenician king in the work is only a starting point. The main characters here are the sea, majestic mountains, clear blue skies and spreading trees.