Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600-1682 Rome) A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond
Lot 38
Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain
(Champagne 1600-1682 Rome)
A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond
Sold for £722,500 (US$ 935,313) inc. premium

Lot Details
Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600-1682 Rome) A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600-1682 Rome) A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600-1682 Rome) A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600-1682 Rome) A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond
Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600-1682 Rome)
A pastoral landscape with a shepherd and shepherdess beside their livestock in an Arcadian landscape with drovers on a bridge beyond
oil on canvas
97.7 x 134.9cm (38 7/16 x 53 1/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Richard Curzon-Howe, first Earl Howe, 1824
    Sale, Christie's, London, 21 March 1973, lot 81
    With Noortman and Brod, October 1975, whence acquired by the present family

    Exhibited
    London, British Institution, 1824, no. 9
    London, British Institution, 1858, no. 92 or no. 105
    Munich, Haus der Kunst, Im Licht von Claude Lorrain, 12 March-29 May, 1983, cat. no. 5


    Literature
    M. Roethlisberger, 'Nuovi Aspetti di Claude Lorrain' in Paragone, November 1972, pp. 28-29, ill., fig. 20
    M. Roethlisberger, Im Licht von Claude Lorrain, exh. cat., Munich, 1983, p. 68, cat. no. 5, ill.

    The present painting only became widely known when it was published by Professor Roethlisberger in 1972. In his article for Paragone he refers to it in the following terms: 'in excellent condition ... The painting stands out as autograph for the unmistakable quality of its execution, the unity and depth of its spatial effect that the copies never reached.' A drawing of it by Claude is in the Uffizi (no. 1,371 E, reproduced in Roethlisberger, Claude Lorrain: The Drawings, 1968, vol. II, fig. 119; the drawing is discussed in vol. I, no. 119; see our fig. 1). The drawing has the same characteristics as those in the Liber Veritatis and probably, like those, was made after the painting was finished, as a record and not as a sketch. Before being aware of the painting Roethlisberger had dated the Uffizi drawing to circa 1637. He has since suggested that the painting can be dated to 1635-1637. While we do not know who commissioned the present landscape, this was the period when Claude's work had begun to bring him important patrons, including the future Pope Clement IX, the French ambassador, Cardinal Carlo de' Medici, Pope Urban VIII, and perhaps most prestigious of all, King Philip IV of Spain. We know that Claude's house at this time was frequented by throngs of visitors. These included other landscape painters and his reputation in this field was such that artists began faking his work. According to Filippo Baldinucci's Notizie, this was the reason why the artist started to keep a visual record of his paintings before they left his studio. As appears to be the case with regard to the present work, his method was to make drawn copies of his landscapes, most of which were kept in a large book called by him libro di verità (the 'book of truth' or Liber veritatis, as it is today known by its Latin title). It may be suggested that the present work dates from before the beginning of the Liber Veritatis in 1636.

    Until the present painting came to light in 1972, the composition was also known through two old copies: in the Galleria Nazionale, Rome (canvas, 84 x 109 cm., no. 957); and formerly in the collection of Duke Ludwig of Bavaria (size and present whereabouts unknown). Roethlisberger had formerly believed these pictures to have been broad imitations of Claude's Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Marcel Roethlisberger, Claude Lorrain, The Paintings, Volume I: Critical Catalogue, 1979, p. 501, no. 232; illustrated in Volume 2: The Illustrations, figs. 412 and 413), but we now know that they were derived from this original. The verso of the Uffizi drawing shows two figure sketches relating to a Flight into Egypt and a link may still be suggested to the Doria Rest on the Flight - which may well date to before the beginning of the Liber Veritatis (see fig. 2).

    Morning and evening are to be preferred by the landscape painter as they are the most poetic times of day

    Claude has long been regarded as the greatest of all 'Ideal Landscape' painters, a term that denoted an image of landscape that is more beautiful and ordered than nature itself, and which had first been initiated by Venetian artists, such as Giorgione and Titian at the beginning of the 16th century. The term was closely associated with the pastoral depiction of shepherds and shepherdesses watching their flocks and herds. In this Claude also owed a debt to the contemporary landscape painters whom he would have encountered in Rome in the 1620s - such as Agostino Tassi and Goffredo Wals (under whom he studied); as well as being influenced by Filippino Napoletano, Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Paul Bril. While the latter artists, however, obeyed a formula of perspective which divided their landscapes into a series of demarcated planes, it is generally recognised that what marked Claude apart from all these artists was the way in which he invested a variety of lively details within a harmonious unity thanks to his unparalleled skill in the way he handled light. It is just this 'unity and depth of its spatial effect' that Roethlisberger admires with regard to the present painting in his 1972 article. Here we see a particularly fine example of Claude's mastery of the stunningly atmospheric effects of light and shade. Almost all of Claude's works are at the time of sunrise or sunset. As the Englishman, Edward Norgate (who had visited Rome in the 1620s) remarked, morning and evening are to be preferred by the landscape painter 'as they are the most poetic times of day.' Claude, moreover, developed the naturalism that characterised his works of the 1620s and '30s in particular through his direct studies in the countryside. His biographer, Joachim von Sandrart, wrote that the master would spend whole days in the field observing the light effects in the sky and on the ground, noting the appropriate colours on his palette and then going home to record those effects on his canvas. In fact, Roethlisberger notes that it is at this particular period, more than any other of Claude's career, that his finished paintings followed his drawings from life, enabling him to invest in his landscapes the realistic atmosphere that manifested from his researches in the field. Sandrart also claimed that it was following his instigation that Claude took to preparing oil sketches on prepared paper or fine cloth. But most importantly the artist made numerous drawings from nature using pen, brown ink wash and black or grey chalk. Like almost all landscape painters in oils, Claude worked for the most part alone, not even adopting the relatively common practice of employing figure painters, as can be attested by his drawings in which the figures are clearly by him.

    The refined and cultivated values that Claude's works reflected account for his early patronage by members of the European nobility and higher clergy, a section of society that subsequently continued to favour his work as collectors in the centuries to come. The fact that by 1830 about two-thirds of Claude's pictures and drawings, including this one, were in British collections was also both a symptom and a cause of his far-reaching impact on British culture, where his idealised scenes affected landscape garden design, the poetry of the 'Augustan Age' and the literature of the Picturesque Movement, not to mention paintings in both oil and watercolour, the artist's most illustrious imitators and admirers being John Constable and, of course, JMW Turner, whose Dido building Carthage and Sun rising through vapour hang next to Claude's The Seaport and The Mill in The National Gallery in London, in accordance with the great Victorian artist's will. Indeed, Claude's poetic magic, so apparent in the present Pastoral Landscape, is timeless which is why it continues to be highly prized today.
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