- Museum number
Landscape with Queen Esther approaching the palace of Ahasuerus, preliminary study for the painting; three figures sitting near a tree in the left foreground, a wall stretching out into the wooded valley beyond, the tower of Babel in the distance, a group of figures standing near columns in the right foreground, a palace behind. 1657-9
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash
- Production date
Height: 219 millimetres
Width: 324 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing is preparatory to Claude’s painting of Queen Esther which he produced in 1658 for Monsignor Bosquet. This painting was Claude’s largest and in his opinion finest painting, and It is recorded in the Liber Veritatis at LV 146 (inv. no. 1957,1214.152). Claude made multiple careful studies for this panting, the present drawing being the second in the sequence towards the final composition (for the others see Roethlisberger 1968, nos. 816–818). It is meticulously worked out, with a precise use of proportion and high level of detail for the surrounding architecture. The architecture was apparently the focal point of Claude’s study as he continued to develop the buildings such as the inclusion of the Tower of Babel rather than focus on the figures in the foreground. The composition combines the realms of nature and civilisation and Claude merged them here to great effect. It should also be considered in relation to the more highly finished drawing acquired by The Met which is one of Claude’s rare surviving presentation drawings (inv. no. 1997.156).
Lit.: A.M. Hind, 'Catalogue of the Drawings of Claude Lorrain preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings', London, 1926, no. 265; M. Roethlisberger, 'Claude Lorrain: The drawings catalog', 2 vols, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968, no. 817; J.J.L. Whiteley, ‘Claude Lorrain: Drawings from the Collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum’, exh. cat. London & Oxford, 1998–99 (London, 1998), no. 83, p.139; 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. 117, pp.170-173.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1968, BM, Piranesi, no.9
1978/9 Oct-Jan, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Claude Lorrain', no.79
1998 Jun-Sep, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 'Claude Lorrain', no.83
1998/9 Sep-Jan, BM, 'Claude Lorrain', no.83
2003 April-Oct, Graz, Kunsthistorisches Museum, 'The Tower of Babel:...'
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:...'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number