Ship in a storm. c.1638 Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over black chalk Verso: The Castle of Palo Pen and brown ink, some black chalk
- 1638 (circa)
- Height: 271 millimetres
- Width: 219 millimetres
Inscription ContentSigned on recto "Claudio fecit" and numbered "10", and inscribed on verso in faded brown ink, lower left "Cl. 9"
Although drawn on a page from the Campagna Book, this crewless ship was almost certainly not drawn from nature. Claude's drawing of the Ripa Grande in the BM (see Oo,6.41; Roethlisberger no. 286), as well as other drawings of ships such as those in the Louvre, Paris (Roethlisberger 1968, no. 83) and in the Art Institute of Chicago (Roethlisberger 1968, no. 396), show his familiarity with boats that would have provided the inspiration for this vivid depiction of a sailing vessel battling against rough seas. (For the inaccuracies in the depiction of the ship see Rand 2007). The present drawing was made in connection with a lost painting of a storm at sea, painted for Paolo Giordano Orsini c.1638, recorded in a drawing in the Liber Veritatis in the BM (1957,1214.39; Roethlisberger 1968, no. 196). On the aforementioned drawing from the Louvre and on this drawing, the flags on top of the ships are emblazoned with a barry of four (i.e. an even number of horizontal stripes) rather than the bendy (diagonal) of six of the Orsini arms, the family which owned the castle. For diplomatic and symbolic reasons it seems unlikely that Claude would have wished to identify a ship in rough seas specifically with the family of his patron.
The verso of this sheet is a pen sketch probably made from life of the Orsini castle at Palo. The castle is on the road from Rome to Santa Marinella, where Claude is known to have gone in 1638-39 in order to paint the 'Landscape with the Port of Santa Marinella' now in the Petit Palais, Paris (see M. Roethlisberger, 'Claude Lorrain: The paintings catalog', 2 vols, New Haven, 1961, I, LV 46, p.179, II, fig. 111) and it was probably drawn on the same journey. The same castle is shown in another BM drawing (Ff,2.157; Roethlisberger 1968, no. 310) and two in the Louvre, Paris (26,692 and RF 4,574; Roethlisberger 1968, nos. 323-324). The second Louvre view provides a key to the reading of the present drawing with the uppermost landscape, including a boatyard, found to the left of the castle. Although the sketch was done very rapidly Claude paid attention to the proportions of the buildings; the buildings are somewhat simplified in the Louvre drawing (Roethlisberger no. 324) .
The ink number on the recto, '10', of the present drawing identifies it as part of the so-called Campagna Book showing views made in the vicinity of Rome (see Roethlisberger 1968, pp. 59-61). If the Campagna Book was completed chronologically and if Claude visited Palo on his way to Santa Marinella, the drawing on the verso must have been added later as the other view of Civitavecchia is numbered '38' (BM Ff,2.157; Roethlisberger 1968, no. 310). Maybe Claude selected a blank verso at random or he may have wished to associate it with the recto related to the Orsini commission.
Lit.: A.M. Hind, 'Catalogue of the Drawings of Claude Lorrain preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings', London, 1926, no. 4, p. 1; M. Roethlisberger, 'Claude Lorrain: The drawings catalog', 2 vols, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968, nos. 282 and 322, pp.148 and 159; J. Whiteley, in exhib. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean and London, BM, 'Claude Lorrain, Drawings from the Collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum', 1998, no. 38, p. 84; R. Rand, in exhib. cat., San Francisco, Legion of Honor and Williamstown (MA), Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 'Claude Lorrain - The Painter as Draftsman: Drawings from the British Museum', 2007, pp. 136-137, fig. 86
French Roy XVIIc
1978/9 Oct-Jan, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Claude Lorrain', no.18 1998 Jun-Sep, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 'Claude Lorrain', no.38
1998/9 Sep-Jan, BM, 'Claude Lorrain', no.38
2006/7 Oct-Jan, San Francisco, Legion of Honor, 'Claude Lorrain:...'
2007 Feb-April, Williamstown, Clark Art Institute, 'Claude Lorrain:...'
2007 May-Aug, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Claude Lorrain:...'
Prints & Drawings
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Object reference number: PDO1397
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.