Claude: from canvas to garden

Claude Lorrain, The Father of Psyche Sacrificing at the Temple of Apollo, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Over the weekend I visited the Claude Lorrain exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The show focuses on bringing together the paintings of the seventeenth-century master with his drawings and prints.

Claude Lorrain, The Landing of Aeneas at Palanteum, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

It is fascinating to see Claude playing with different landscape motifs and trying out all sorts of combinations. In spite – or perhaps because of – this his paintings exude an air of timeless serenity.

Claude Lorrain, Jacob with Laban and his Daughters, at Petworth, West Sussex. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Claude’s pictures were hugely popular in Britain, so much so that, as the exhibition catalogue states, nearly all of them have been in British collections at some point, or are still there today.

John Constable, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/Christopher Hurst

Claude’s work inspired a number of British painters, such as Constable, Cozens and Turner.

Watercolour of Stourhead by by Coplestone Warre Bampflyde, at Stourhead, Wiltshire. ©NTPL

Claude also influenced the development of the English landscape garden, and nowhere is this more obvious than at Stourhead, in Wiltshire.

Stourhead today. ©NTPL/Nick Daly

There are other strands of meaning at Stourhead as well, of course, including an awareness of the various local springs, references to antiquity and subtle political symbolism. But the compositional language that brings it all together is very much that of Claude.

2 Responses to “Claude: from canvas to garden”

  1. Parnassus Says:

    When I was in England, the paintings by Claude Lorrain were memorable even among the treasures of the National Gallery.

    As an aside, Cleveland (Ohio)’s Lorain Avenue features many resale shops with horrible, cheap paintings, and when someone winced at one of them, I said that it could be considered a “Claude Lorain [Avenue]”

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Parnassus, yes that is Proust-in-reverse, isn’t it: an evocative name for a not very inspiring place 🙂

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