- Museum number
Portrait of Claude, possibly a self-portrait, used as a frontispiece to the Liber Veritatis; almost half-length, turned to front and slightly to right, and looking to front
Pen and brown ink and brown wash, heightened with white, strengthened with gum, over black chalk, on blue paper; on an 18thc mount
- Production date
Height: 265 millimetres
Width: 323 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This portrait of Claude Lorrain formed the frontspiece to his Liber Veritatis when it entered the collection of the British Museum in 1957. It is not by Claude himself, and is instead the work of an anonymous artist. A terminus amte quem for its production was 1675 on account of its basis on an engraving by Richard Collin that was first printed in 1675 that was in turn based on drawing by Joachim von Sandrart (now in the Munich, Bayerische Staatbibliothek, Codex Iconographicus 366, fol. 34r). For specific literature on this drawing see below.
The sketch-book of the Liber Veritatis contains 195 drawings which Claude made as a record of his paintings from around 1635 onwards until the end of his career. It is generally agrred that Claude began the album to protect his work against forgeries. This is suggested by Claude’s increasingly meticulous notes that he made on the drawings as to their patron and their dates ion the verso, in addition to occasional references to a specific literary source. As a whole, the drawings are notable for their high standard of execution, with Claude placing great attention on detail. There are, however, frequent disparities in scale between the paintings and the drawings in the Liber, which might be considered to be a consequence of the smaller scale of the album pages, and the attempts to fit in such detail as which Claude imbued his paintings. The drawings are for the most part on white paper, but there are blue sheets inserted at an interval of approximately every 5 pages.
The album passed to Claude’s niece Agnese on his death, possibly with the frontispiece portrait, and an index of patrons written in Italian, based on Claude's inscriptions on the versos of the drawings (the first index). It is possible that it was rebound for the first time at this stage. It was then sold by Claude's nephew Joseph and is next recorded in Paris, now with an index in French recording the names of the then owners of the paintings (the second index), which can be dated to c. 1717. After this the book passed to the 2nd Duke of Devonshire, in whose collection it is recorded as being in 1728. While in the Devonshire collection, or possibly before, the drawings were trimmed almost to Claude's frame-line, mounted on grey paper, leaving the versos exposed, and rebound, with the frontispiece and indices, and five other drawings unconnected to the Liber (chiefly finished preparatory studies), bringing the total number of Claude's drawings contained in the album to 200. In 1774 the Liber was dismantled to enable Earlom to engrave his series of prints after the drawings, and each was clearly numbered on the verso (for the third time). Two pairs of drawings were switched around and incorrectly numbered, a mistake which persisted when the drawings were returned to their binding.
This album was accepted in lieu of Estate Duty after the death of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, and allocated to the British Museum in 1957, registration numbers 1957,1214.6-206. It was dismantled in the interests of conservation and the drawings were mounted separately on stiff boards leaving the versos exposed.
For information on the prints by Earlom after the Liber, see 1872,1012.4663.
For the Liber Veritatis: M. Kitson, ‘Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis’, London, 1978; M. Roethlisberger, ‘Drawings by Claude Lorrain: The Past Fifty Years’, Master Drawings, 2018, no. 4, pp. 487-516 with further literature.
For the portrait. M. Roethlisberger, ‘Claude Lorrain. The Drawings’, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1968, no. 179; 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, fig. 1; C. van Tuyll & M. Plomp, exhib. cat., Paris, Musée du Louvre, ‘Claude Gellée, dit le Lorrain. Le dessinateur face à la nature’, 2011–12, p.10; D. Klemm in exhib. cat. (ed. by A. Stolzenburg & D. Klemm), Hamburg, Kunsthalle, ‘Das Licht der Campagna. Die Zeichnungen Claude Lorrains im British Museum’, 2017–18, no. 90, pp.254-255
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1977 BM, Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis
1978/9 Oct-Jan, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Claude Lorrain', no. 70
1998 Oct-Dec, London, Sir John Soane's Museum, 'William Kent'
2012 March-June, London, National Gallery, Turner Inspired...
2017 - 2018 13 Oct-14 Jan, Hamburg: Das Licht der Campagna. Die Zeichnungen Claude Lorrains im British Museum, London
- 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