Lot 63
  • 63

Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain
  • An Italianate landscape with a drover and his dog driving his cattle across a ford, a waterfall beyond
  • oil on canvas


Commissioned by the surgeon, Nicolas Larché (1602–1665), Rome;

Probably with the brothers Pietro (1760–1833) and Vincenzo Camuccini (1771–1844), Rome, by 1815;

Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 6 December 2006, lot 42;

Private collection, USA;

By whom sold ('The Property of a Southwest Private Collector'), New York, Sotheby's, 28 Jan 2010, lot 199;

Where acquired by the present owner.


L. Caracciolo, Liber Veritatis di Claudio Gellée, Rome 1815, no. 102;

J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. VIII, London 1837, p. 245, cat. no. 102;

M. Röthlisberger, Claude Lorrain. The Paintings, London 1961, vol. I, pp. 264–65, under cat. no. LV 102 (the Liber Veritatis drawing reproduced vol. II, fig. 183).

Richard Earlom, for Boydell's edition of the Liber Veritatis, London 1777 (the drawing only).


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Claude Lorrain. Figures in a Landscape. This painting has a recent lining and an old stretcher. The restoration is also recent. There is a narrow line of retouching all round the outer edge of the painting. Much of the central scene with the cattle being driven across the water and rocky foreground, with the wooded middle distance on the left is beautifully intact. There is a fine craquelure throughout. Even the delicate detail of the upper foliage in the trees remains perfectly preserved, as is the warm lighting on the rocks and figures. The romantic sunset light across the distance has had some strengthening retouching mainly in the upper clouds, visible under ultra violet light, and also on the distance mountain with a strand across the horizon. A few more minor retouchings can be seen in the water and there is a little concentration of retouching in the darkest centre of the woods just behind the slender tree trunk. However the painting has been finely preserved overall. This report was not done under laboratory conditions
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This arcadian landscape, on an exquisite scale, was reidentified as an autograph work by Claude just over a decade ago, for the first time in over two centuries. The composition is recorded by Claude himself in the Liber Veritatis (fig. 1; see Literature) – the book of drawings the artist kept to record his completed paintings from 1635, as his success began to grow, until his death, almost fifty years later.1 The drawing reproduces the present painting in every detail in beautiful pen and and brown ink, with brown wash, and its placement within the book indicates a date for the painting of 1646 or 1647.

Claude pays particular attention here to the warm evening light, which emanates from below the horizon, casting the landscape in a golden glow that unifies the vista from the soft, illuminated clouds, to the glittering cascade, to the hides of the cattle and the drover's outstretched arm. The painting may well have been executed in the same year as the small Pastoral Landscape in the Ellesmere Collection, which is comparable in its subject matter, intimate format and pervasive classical, idyllic mood.2 In design and theme the composition also recalls the earlier, larger Pastoral Landscape of 1644, today in the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco,3 while an almost identical drover and his cattle appear in the drawing of Landscape with Tobias and the Angel, the finished painting of which is untraced.4

According to Claude's own annotations on the Liber Veritatis drawing, this was one of two paintings commissioned by the eminent French surgeon, Nicolas Larché. The other, recorded by drawing no. 39 in the Liber, was painted a few years earlier in 1639 but no longer survives. Larché was a famous surgeon in Rome, from the diocese of Rheims, who, according to Passeri, gave Poussin some instruction in anatomy. According to Caracciolo (see Literature), the painting belonged to the Camuccini brothers in Rome in the nineteenth century. Pietro and Vincenzo Camuccini worked as painters, restorers and dealers, and owned a remarkable collection, which hung in the 16th-century Palazzo Cesi, Rome, from 1851. They sold pictures to a number of English noblemen passing through Rome on the Grand Tour, most famously when Vincenzo's son, Giovanni Battista, sold seventy-four pictures to Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland (1792–1865) in 1856, including Claude's Seaport of 1637, originally painted for Pope Urban VIII.5 From then until the twentieth century the painting's provenance remains obscure. Smith (see Literature) records a painting of this description, but not of these dimensions, sold at Stanleys in London in 1830.

1. British Museum, London, inv. no. 1957,1214.6.

2. See Röthlisberger 1961, vol. I, pp. 263–64, under cat. no. LV 101, reproduced vol. II, fig. 182.

3. Inv. no. 61.44.31; see Röthlisberger 1961, vol. I, pp. 230–32, under cat. no. LV 81, reproduced vol. II, fig. 154. 

4. See Röthlisberger 1961, vol. I, p. 208, cat. no. LV 65, reproduced vol. II, fig. 136.

5. Still in situ at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland; see Röthlisberger 1961, vol. I, p. 124, under cat. no. LV 14, reproduced vol. II, fig. 51.