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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), View from Monte Mario; the River Tiber winding into the left foreground, the Tiburtine hills in the distance, c.1640. Brush drawing in brown wash, 185 x 265 mm. London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings © Trustees of the British Museum.

HAMBURG.- The exhibition The Light of the Campagna presents drawings by one of the greatest European landscape artists: Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682). This is the first large-scale show in Germany to be devoted explicitly to Lorrain’s drawings. Some 1,200 drawings have been identified to date as belonging to the multifaceted oeuvre of the French painter and draughtsman, who spent nearly his entire life in Rome. The exhibition features 90 remarkable pen and brush drawings from the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum in London. The carefully selected works come for the most part from the prestigious collections of Sir Richard Payne Knight and the Dukes of Devonshire. 

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), View through a group of pine trees on a medieval fortified tower in the Campagna, around 1638/40. Brush in brown and dark brown over black chalk, 221 x 330 mm. London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings © Trustees of the British Museum, London.

Claude Lorrain developed over the course of his career an idealised image of the Italian landscape and the southern light that suffuses it – a vision that would leave its mark on international landscape painting until the mid-19th century and also inform the work of artists such as Claude-Joseph Vernet and William Turner. Lorrain’s many mythological and historical figures from ancient Rome populated atmospheric and light-filled compositions that have been a fixed reference point that every subsequent generation of artists has strived to emulate.  

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), Ship in a storm, around 1638. Brown pencil and brush, 270 x 220 mm, London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings © Trustees of the British Museum, London

The exhibition presents a selection of distinguished drawings in a wide variety of techniques. Many were freely executed from nature during sketching expeditions in the Roman Campagna and around Tivoli. These surprisingly modern-looking, free-form landscape studies exude a freshness and spontaneity far ahead of their time. Claude Lorrain was one of the pioneers of drawing in the countryside. His drawings compellingly display how the artist was able to capture nature and the phenomena of the outdoor light extremely accurately with pen and brush and then translate them into highly picturesque scenes on paper.  

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), Aeneas and Dido in Carthage (drawing from the Liber Veritatis after the painting of the Hamburger Kunsthalle), c. 1675/76. Pen in brown, brush in brown and gray, over black chalk, 193 x 257 mm, London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings © Trustees of the British Museum, London

On view alongside these nature scenes are studies for paintings as well as a concise selection from Claude’s famous Liber Veritatis, an album of masterful drawings the artist made to record the compositions of his finished paintings, resulting in artworks in their own right. 

 

To enable viewers to compare Lorrain’s idealised painted landscapes with his wonderful drawings of his own work, the Hamburg painting Dido and Aeneas in Carthage from 1675/76 will be shown side-by-side with the corresponding drawing from the Liber Veritatis.

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), A man observes a draftsman sitting on a fallen tree, around 1635/40. Brush in brown, 321 x 214 mm, London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings © Trustees of the British Museum, London. 

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), The Tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via Appia Antica, c. 1638, pen and brush in brown, gray washed, graphite, border line (pen in brown, pruned), 285 x 221 mm, London, © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), Group of trees, c. 1640, brown and brown feather and brush, traces of color in gray, fragment of a border line (pen in brown), 259 x 240 mm, London, © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), Ideal landscape with bridge and rider and the Temple of the Sibyl in Tivoli at sunset, c. 1642, pen and brush in brown, gray washed, 196 x 264 mm, London, © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Claude Lorrain (1604/05–1682), Landscape with the Annihilation of Hagar and Ishmael by Abraham, c. 1668, pen and brush in brown, heightened with white, 195 x 256 mm, London, © The Trustees of the British Museum

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Claude Gellée, gen. Lorrain (1600 - 1682), Aeneas and Dido in Carthage, 120 x 149.2 cm, oil on canvas, © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk, Photo: Elke Walford.

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Richard Earlom (1743 - 1822), engraver, after Claude Gellée, gen. Lorrain (1600 - 1682), Aeneas and Dido in Carthage / "A Sea View, with Buildings and many Figures", In: "Liber Veritatis", Volume II , London 1777, Sheet 186, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Library, © Hamburger Kunsthalle, Photo: Christoph Irrgang.