European
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Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, 1600–1682),
Rest on the Flight into Egypt , ca. 1640
oil on canvas, 30 x 36 ¼ in.; 76.2 x 92.07 cm
Museum purchase, 1957.17

Claude Lorrain’s paintings epitomize the classical approach to landscape. Although based on the detailed study of nature, they are idealized and follow a conventional composition scheme that uses elements such as trees, boulders, and roads to frame a distant vista and direct the eye to the horizon. At the same time, the careful gradation of tone and color creates a convincing illusion of space and atmosphere. Small, almost incidental figures contribute to the harmony of Claude’s landscapes, as their actions mirror nature’s mood, and vice versa. This formula was revived by such late-eighteenth-century Neoclassical landscape painters as Jean-Victor Bertin.

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