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Recent Acquisitions - 2 of 12

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A View Outside the Piazza del Popolo in Rome by Claude Lorrain

Claude Lorrain
French, 1604/5–1682
A View Outside the Piazza del Popolo in Rome
Black chalk, gray and brown wash, pen and brown ink framing lines on cream laid paper
8 11/16 x 12 5/8 in. (22 x 32 cm)
Acquired by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2007

The idealized landscape paintings of Claude Gellée (called Claude Lorrain) inspired generations of artists and collectors. His drawings were also admired for their compositional balance and use of light and shade. But by and large, this body of work went unseen until after Claude’s death: he confined his drawings to his studio, using his sketches and studies as personal guides and reference material for larger paintings. This drawing, one of a group of sixteen acquired by the Clark from the collection of Peter Jay Sharp, was originally from a book used or assembled by Claude around 1638 to 1642. Known as “the Tivoli Book” for the predominance of scenes of Rome and Tivoli contained therein, this assemblage of drawings was either an actual sketchbook, in which Claude drew directly onto bound sheets of paper, or an album, a book into which Claude tipped individual sheets made on separate occasions. Claude frequently drew in the open air, studying the countryside or buildings around him. In this composition, the dome and bell tower of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo are visible at right, clumped among fuzzy trees and other buildings adjacent to one of Rome’s oldest public spaces, the Piazza del Popolo. However, Claude’s inexact rendering of the actual architecture, as well as the prominence of the two oxen shown in bold profile in the foreground, suggest that he worked on at least some parts of this drawing back in his studio, altering details in order to create a compelling arrangement of parts. The Tivoli Book was dismantled sometime during the last few years of Claude’s life or soon after his death by members of his family, and six of its original thirty-two drawings made their way into an album owned successively by Queen Christina of Sweden, Prince Livio Odescalchi of Rome, the noted collectors Georges Wildenstein and Norton Simon, and finally, Peter Sharp.