Claude Lorrain, A Bank of Trees, a drawing

Italy, about AD 1645-50

This superb drawing combines a range of techniques used by the artist in his drawings of the 1630s and 1640s. Black chalk, brown ink, washed red chalk and white heightening are all applied to create a more 'painterly' scene, though on blue paper. The emphatic use of chalk, applied like a thick paint, and the precise chiaroscuro (light and shade) of the trees in particular give the drawing more solidity and natural drama.

The foreground is drawn with pen and wash, probably back in the studio. A broken tree trunk is seen in silhouette and the dark tree to the right frames the sunlit glade. The dark foreground provides a contrast with the sparkling and varied bank of trees behind, the true subject of the drawing. Brown wash is used in the middle ground and shadows of the tops of the trees to heighten the contrast with the white bodycolour of the leaves.

Claude was the supreme painter and drawer of the ideal landscape in seventeenth-century Italy. He drew from nature as he and artist-friends sketched in the countryside around Rome. Although this drawing was not used for any of his paintings, it is almost a small painting in its own right.

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More information


J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

M. Roethlisberger, Claude Lorrain: the drawings, 2 vols. (University of California Press, 1968)

A.M. Hind, Catalogue of the drawings of C (London, 1926)

D. Russell, Claude Lorrain (Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, 1982)

J.J.L. Whiteley, Claude Lorrain: drawings from, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)


Height: 224.000 mm
Width: 327.000 mm

Museum number

PD Oo.7-190


Bequeathed by R. Payne Knight


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