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Claude Lorrain

09 Sep

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Claude Lorrain - The Shipwreck - 1640/41
etching - paper 15.4 x 21.3 cm image 12.5 x 17.6 cm
Printed London 1816. On tissue attached to backing paper, trimmed to plate. Good condition.
Unframed - Price: £340

CLAUDE GELLÉE,  known as CLAUDE LORRAIN was born around 1600 into a poor peasant family in the Lorraine region. His first career was as a pastry cook. He arrived in Rome around 1617 where he initially found work as such. However a natural tendency to draw must have been recognised as in the following year he has moved to Naples to study under a successful German artist. He then returned to France to study under the successful Mannerist artist Claude Duruet before arriving back in Rome in 1626.

Claude spent these years roaming the Roman countryside, the Campagna, making a considerable number of drawings which became the basis of his paintings. His paintings are primarily landscapes centred around mythological, biblical and pastoral themes. His work appealed greatly to the crowds of 18th century British visitors on their Grand Tour to Rome; hundreds if not thousands of paintings, drawings  and prints ending up in British hands.

Claude  appealed also to British artists; his influence on the development of British landscape art cannot be over-stated and was felt well into the nineteenth century. His appeal is to be found in his use of subject, composition and manner of lighting. The skies of golden light stretching over the Campagna landscape described another world compared to that of native England. A touch of the exotic couched within classical themes was hugely attractive to British audiences.

In print, Claude was a natural etcher, many of his best works made in the 1630s. There is a freedom of line and expressive quality that is quite different to the formalities of his painting. The two etchings presented here reflect these fine qualities. These particular prints were pulled in 1816 by an unknown English publisher who had acquired the plates.

That one can purchase and enjoy a work by Claude at a price less than that of many contemporary prints is something to be appreciated as plates printed in the artist’s lifetime (he died in 1682) are ten times these prices

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