- Museum number
Pastoral landscape, record of a painting in the collection of the Earl of Halifax and another two versions (see LV catalogue), from the Liber Veritatis; a river moving into the right foreground, trees on either bank, herdsmen (?) with goats near the foreground, a classical building with colonnade beyond at l
Pen and brown ink and brown wash, heightened with white
Verso: Three standing male figures in conversation
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash
- Production date
Height: 187 millimetres
Width: 263 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- See 1957,1214.6 for information on the Liber Veritatis.
This is one of two drawings in the BM that relate to the same composition by Claude, the other being a rapid pen and ink study (see BM, Oo,6.55; Roethslisberger 1968, no. 161). These correspond to three known paintings (according to Kitson 1978, no. 23) that as of 1978 were all in English private collections. These included: one in the collection of the Earl of Halifax, dated 1638, Roethsliberger 1968, pp. 142–44, fig. 68/ no. 82; one in a house in Parham, Sussex, signed and dated ‘CLAVD/1638’, R-C, no. 83; one in a house in Parham, Sussex (see Roethlisberger, R-C 83); another in a private collection, that is closer to the Parham rather than the Halifax version (see Roethsliberger R-C, 83 bis.). The inscription on the verso records that the composition was first made for a Mr Gueffier and while the inscriptions on the paintings suggest this must have been around 1638, the other BM drawing’s position within the Liber suggests that the drawing was made in 1637: this peculiarity remains to be resolved.
The relationship between this drawing and the pen and ink study does not appear to have been direct. That the pen and ink drawing was a preparatory study is suggested by its penwork, that is both rapid and assertive. It is alternatively possible that the drawing was made as a rapid record after the first version of the painting (likely that at Parham) that was subsequently referred to when making the painting for Mr Gueffier, and ultimately for the present record in the Liber Veritatis. This drawing is also a pendant to LV 25 (BM, 1957,1214.30).
Lit.: A.M. Hind, 'Catalogue of the Drawings of Claude Lorrain preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings', London, 1926, no. 211; M. Roethlisberger, 'Claude Lorrain: The drawings catalog', 2 vols, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968, no. 162; M. Roethlisberger, Claude Lorrain, The Paintings, London 1961, LV23, p. 124; M. Kitson, ‘Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis’, London 1978, no. 23.
Kitson, Liber Veritatis:
(1) Earl of Halifax. Canvas, 99 x 122 cm; indistinctly signed 'CLAVDI(?)'; 1638. RP, PP. 142-4, fig. 68 (with partly wrong provenance); MK in Studies…Blunt, 1967, pp. 142-4; R-C, 82 (repeating the provenance in RP). This painting differs from the Liber Veritatis drawing and the second painting in the architecture at the left and in having three figures instead of two, more animals in the foreground, a bridge and several boats in the middle distance, the remains of a dead tree overhanging the water, and a larger building in the background.
(2) Parham (Sussex), Mrs P. A. Tritton. Canvas, 100 x 132 cm; signed and dated 'CLAVD/1638'. Mk in Studies…Blunt, loc. cit.; R-C, 83. The drawing corresponds to this painting exactly, except that the background is slightly simplified. For the reasons why the painting seems nevertheless to have been executed second, see below.
(3) Private Collection. Canvas, 96 x 135 cm. M. Chiarini in Burlington Magazine, CXIII, 1971, p. 474, fig. 59; R-C, 83 bis. This painting resembles the Parham rather than the Halifax version, especially in the architecture, background and trees (though even in those parts it is not identical) but differs from both in the foreground, where it shows two shepherds driving a herd instead of two (or three) seated peasants. This version may be a little later than the other two for stylistic reasons, i.e. the treatment throughout seems firmer. LV 23 is the only composition in the Liber Veritatis of which Claude produced three painted versions all related to a single drawing. As to the priority of first two versions it appears that, despite the far closer relationship of the Parham painting to the drawing, the Halifax version was the one actually executed first. The reasons lie in the existence of a preparatory drawing for the composition in the British Museum (RD, 161), combined with a pentiment in the Parham painting. This drawing – the only surviving one apart from that in the Liber Veritatis connected with any of the three paintings – is undoubtedly related to the Halifax version and is clearly a study for it. This in itself would not prove the priority of that painting (cf. LV 9) but what tends to support it is that, as can be seen by examining the surface of the Parham picture at the top left, Claude originally intended the lines of the architecture here to follow those of the British Museum drawing and the Halifax painting, but then altered them. In other words, while it is easy to imagine Claude repeating a pictorial motive and then, on the third occasion, changing his mind, it is less easy to imagine him starting with an idea, altering it, and then – after he had covered it up in the painting – going back to it. (I proposed this rather awkward hypothesis in 1967 – see above – in order to avoid the conclusion that the variant of a painting, and not the original, was the one recorded in the Liber Veritatis.) In keeping with other cases in which Claude painted two versions of a composition, the second one, i.e. the Parham painting, is somewhat simplified in the details, though that does not mean that it is inferior in quality. The likelihood of Claude’s having executed the Liber Veritatis drawing not from the original painting but from the variant – and if in this instance, why not in others? – has considerable implications for the understanding of the purpose of the book; these implications are discussed in the Introduction. In theory it might be open to doubt as to which version was painted for the patron named on the verso of the drawing: the first, or the one actually recorded? However, there is a clue in the supposed pendant, LV 25, the drawing of which is also inscribed as for Gueffier. Even though the composition of this does not quite match that of LV 23, Claude may have harmonized the paintings by means of the colour and lighting and, assuming that the canvas size were the same, the dimensions of the Parham version are closer to those of LV 25 (96 X 131 cm) than are the dimensions of the Halifax picture. (As it happens, the painting corresponding to LV 25 [qv} seems to have disappeared during the Second World War but its dimensions are known.) Thus the evidence concerning this matter is not very strong but, such as it is, it favours the Parham painting as the one executed for Gueffier.
Earlom, 23; Caracciolo, 24.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1977 BM, Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Accepted by H M Government in lieu of tax on the estate of the 9th Duke of Devonshire.
See M. Kitson's 'Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis', pp. 28-9, for a full account of the provenance of the sketch-book.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number