Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The French landscape painter, draftsman, and etcher Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) was regarded as the prince of landscape painters until the days of impressionism in the mid-19th century.

Claude Lorrain was born Claude Gellée in the village of Chamagne near Nancy. Orphaned at about the age of 12, he moved to
Freiburg to live with his brother, who apparently was equipped to teach him engraving.

As of the 1630s his reputation as a landscape painter was firmly established. By the 1640s he counted among his clients the French ambassador Philippe de Béthune, cardinals Bentivoglio and Crescenzio, and Pope Urban VIII. The real subject of Lorrain's work is not the forms of nature or the activities of men, but rather -like Turner- the animating power of light.

In 1961 this picture was auctioned off for only 52,000 Guineas (1 Gn= 1 Pound and 1 shilling). According to tradition, Queen Dido founded Carthage after she fled from Tyre (Palestine). Dido killed herself after the loss of her lover Aeneas : the story of Dido and Aeneas was told in the fourth book of Virgil’s Aeneid.

In 1815 Turner also painted Dido Building Carthage; eventually he refused 5,000 Guineas for it (a huge sum of money two centuries ago). He never sold this painting and finally bequeathed it to the British Nation.

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