Claude Lorrain 29 September 2011 through 8 January 2012Nederlands
  • Museum open today 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Museum open today 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Museum open today 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Museum open today 10 AM – 5 PM
Claude Lorrain

Claude Lorrain (circa 1600-1682) is one of the most important landscape painters of all time. Specialised in Arcadian landscapes, he created an idealised, sun-filled world with shepherds and mythological figures relaxing near green trees, babbling brooks and classical buildings. After Rubens and Van Dijck, he was the most celebrated artist of his time. His paintings were bought by popes, kings and the European aristocracy.

From pastry chef to celebrated artist
Very little is known about Lorrain's life. His real name was Claude Gellée but he was called Claude Lorrain because that is where he was from. Now a region of France, it was an independent state in the 17th century. Rumour has it that he initially worked as a pastry chef but soon opted for a career as an artist. When he moved to Rome, Lorrain was probably only as young as 13. Apart from a journey to Nancy in 1625-27, he continued to live in Rome for the rest of his life. Lorrain has never been married. In 1658 the five-year-old orphan Agnese came to live with him (perhaps a child born out of wedlock). Four years later a cousin from Lorrain also moved in with him. At the end of his life the celebrated artist suffered from gout, but despite this he carried on working until he died in 1682.

Master of the golden light
Lorrain was an apprentice of Gottfried Wals from Cologne and the Italian Agostino Tassi. When he was young, Lorrain joined de Schildersbent (the painters' clique) which was a group of Dutch artists. He was inspired by the work of Cornelis Poelenburch, Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Herman van Swanevelt. Just like them he tried to capture the golden Italian light in his work. Lorrain eventually became extremely successful at this: he was the first painter who dared to give the sun a central role in his work.

Lorrain's paintings show a general development from realistic scenes with shepherds, beggars and laundresses to more exalted images of idyllic Arcadia with biblical and mythological figures. Although he certainly paid attention to composition and colour, Lorrain was most interested in light. He painted light with a wonderfully warm and golden glow. At the end of his career the light became cooler and more silvery.

A fabulous draftsman
Apart from being a great painter, Lorrain was also a fabulous draftsman. His landscape drawings show a wide variety of approaches and techniques. His early drawings, which he usually made outdoors, have an element of youthful bravery. His quest to represent sunlight lead him to produce exceptionally virtuose, con brio executed drawings, which look very modern from a contemporary perspective. From the 1650s, his drawings became more controlled. His techniques and compositions are very refined.

Influential
Lorrain's work was of major importance to the work of landscape painters including John Constable, William Turner and Jean-Baptiste Corot. Each one of them was inspired by elements from the work of the French artist.

Teylers Museum in collaboration with Louvre
Claude Lorrain
100 master pieces