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

Landscape with Shepherds

Oil on canvas, 68,8 x 91 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The painting is included in Liber Veritatis (LV 107).

Like Nicolas Poussin, Claude Gellée, a native of Lorraine, went to Italy while still young and lived and worked in Rome as an honoured member of the artists' colony. Italian painters being on the whole not greatly attracted towards the painting of pure landscapes, the genre was first explored in the North and was introduced into Italy by painters from the Netherlands, Germany and France. The French painters, Poussin, Claude and Poussin's nephew, Gaspard Dughet, created a specific kind of landscape, known as the 'ideal landscape', introducing mythological or legendary figures and often creating a pleasing harmony by blending elements of reality with antique ruins or classical buildings. To all this Claude added a specific quality of his own - a magic evocation of mood, an exquisite shading of atmospheric elements and subtlety of lighting.

The painting in Budapest depicts a villa in the country near Rome, the house and the landscape bathed in the gentle light of the late afternoon sun; in the foreground, where the shadows have already lengthened, the surface of the water reflects the figures of the shepherd and his flock. The drawing for this picture is in the Duke of Devonshire's collection at Chatsworth; the inscription on the back of the drawing tells us that the picture was painted for Prince Pamphilj, probably some time in the 1640s.

The artist painted another version at about the same time, it is in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 13 minutes):
Franz Schubert: Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock) D 965