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.
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’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.
Claude’s work inspired a number of British painters, such as Constable, Cozens and Turner.
Claude also influenced the development of the English landscape garden, and nowhere is this more obvious than at Stourhead, in Wiltshire.
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.