Claude Gellée, also known as Claude Lorrain (from his birthplace, the Duchy of Lorraine, once an independent nation in what it currently northeastern France), or simply as “Claude” (rhymes with “road”), was the most important landscape painter in the 17th century, and one of the most important and influential in the history of the genre.
Though born in France, Claude spent most of his life and career in Rome, where he bacame fascinated with the ruins of the empire and created the genre known as “classical landscape” combining those architectural artifacts with his love of the natural world.
As much as I admire his paintings, it is Claude’s drawings that I find particularly wonderful, particularly those drawn in pen and wash in a manner somewhat similar to Rembrandt’s wonderful landscape drawings.
Claude was also noted as a printmaker. There is a new exhibition at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt that features a broad overview of his career and his work in all three mediums. Claude Lorrain: The Enchanted Landscape is on display until 6 May, 2012.
Unfortunately, the museum’s website doesn’t have a gallery of works from the exhibition, though there is a video on the exhibition page (in German with English subtitles).
There is also a new exhibition at the National Gallery in London that focuses on Claude’s influence on the English Landscape master J.M.W. Turner. Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude is in display until 5 June, 2012.
The occasion gives me a nice excuse for an update post on Claude, for whom a number of additional internet resources have been added since my previous post.
There are two web exhibits that accompanied previous museum exhibits and feature his drawings: Claude Lorrain: The Painter as Draftsman, Drawings from the British Museum at the Clark Institute in 2007 and Claude Lorrain: The draftsman Studying Nature from the Louvre in 2011.
The latter is particularly of interest for its large reproductions of Claude’s drawings. There is even one in which you can see his perspective construction lines (images above, bottom, with detail, from here).
Claude was known for his intensive outdoor studies in which he strove to capture the light of the landscape for later reproduction in his large studio works, and as such not only influenced Turner’s search for light, but that of the later French Impressionists.
(The images above aren’t necessarily in the exhibition, I just picked them because I like them.)