Exhibition celebrates 'father of European landscape painting'

Claude Lorrain, Landscape with the Judgement of Paris, 1633. (c) Private collect

Claude Lorrain, Landscape with the Judgement of Paris, 1633. (c) Private collection

Visitors to the Ashmolean Museum can explore an unconventional side to artist Claude Lorrain this winter.

Claude Lorrain: The Enchanted Landscape is open until 8 January 2012 and Michael Clarke, director of the Scottish National Gallery, will give a lecture on ‘Claude’s Enduring Legacy’ at the Taylorian lecture theatre on 16 November 2011. The lecture begins at 2pm and is free to the public on a first-come-first-served basis.

Across the road from the Taylor Institution, the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition brings together 140 works by Claude from international collections, created in different styles and at different points of the artist’s career. Lorraine was the first artist to specialise in painting ‘pairs’ – approximately half his compositions were made as companion pieces. By uniting many of these ‘pairs’ and making a comprehensive survey of his work in different media, the exhibition brings new research to bear on his working methods.

Jon Whiteley, Exhibition Curator and Senior Assistant Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum, said: ‘Claude’s art is recognisable to almost all of us, even if we are less familiar with his name, and this important exhibition will reintroduce us to one of the greatest painters of all time.’

Claude, who was born Claude Gellée in c.1600, is regarded as the father of European landscape painting and his influence on later artists is apparent in the work of Gainsborough, Turner and Constable. The latter described him as ‘the most perfect landscape painter the world ever saw.'

Claude’s lesser-known graphic artworks are also displayed and his Fireworks series, ten etchings made during a week of firework displays in Rome, will be on show.

Claude’s style and artistic process were unique to him. His sketching excursions provided him with a stock of motifs and he used landscapes like stage scenery, taking them out for reuse with a different set of characters in more than one painting. He would also cut compositions in two or enlarge them with separate sheets, or pick up a discarded study and add detail to make it a finished work of art.

Claude Lorraine: The Enchanted Landscape is a partnership with the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt, and tickets cost £9 (£7 concessions).

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