(b. 1604, Chamagne, d. 1682, Roma)

The Mill

Oil on canvas, 62 x 85 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Mill is one of Claude's earliest paintings. In it he follows closely the example of Paul Bril, who developed in Rome the style of Late Mannerist landscape, with its artificial disposition of dark-brown foreground, lighter-green middle distance, and blue hills on the horizon, each stage being marked by wings as in a theatre, starting from a dark tree in the foreground. This artificiality of design was coupled with a stylized treatment of the detail, the trees in particular being painted in a set formula of frond-like branches.

In The Mill there on the left is the regulation dark tree; the foreground is filled with incidents of the kind which Bril loved - boats in construction, fragments of ancient columns, and small figures, in this case artists sketching a boy milking a goat; on the right is a picturesque tower; behind it the trees form the next stage, and the hills close in the background. The Mannerist scheme is carried out even to the formula for the tree silhouettes.