Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Three Archers and a Figure with a Spear

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, Chamagne 1604/5?–1682 Rome)
ca. 1670–72
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over black chalk underdrawing
6 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (15.9 x 23.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1961
Accession Number:
Not on view
Following 17th century hierarchies, Claude’s landscapes were elevated to the loftier realm of history painting by their inclusion of small-scale scenes taken from mythology and ancient history. This sheet of studies relates to the 1672 Coast View of Libya with Aeneas Hunting, in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels painted for Paolo Francesco Falconieri (1626-1696), a prince of Florentine origin living in Rome on the via Giulia in a palace that had been remodelled by Borromini in the 1650s.
The episode depicted is from the Aeneid, book I, 158-193. After surviving a tempest at sea unleashed by Juno, Aeneas and his followers and their seven ships find shelter in a deep harbor bordered by cliffs on the Libyan coast. Setting off on foot to gain high ground and survey the horizon, Aeneas comes upon a herd of stags and takes his bow and "swift arrows" from his companion Achates. He shoots until he has downed seven stags, enough to allocate one to each ship. Aeneas, as the symbolic founder of Rome, was a popular subject for paintings commissioned by Roman aristocratic families, naturally wanting to trace their lineage back to this illustrious forebear.
In this sheet, Claude explored various poses for the hunters. His earlier studies betrayed a lack of understanding of archery, but in the Metropolitan’s sheet he has corrected the placement of the feet. The right-handed archer (second from the right) is used for the figure of Aeneas. For Aeneas’s companion, Achates, Claude takes the resting figure at left and turns him 180 degrees. The figure holding a spear is not used in the painting. Although the uneven ground upon which they stand provides a pictorial context, the hunters are not envisioned as a figural grouping, but rather as a succession of distinct studies for individual figures. The four men echo one another, as they all face to the right and wear similar billowing tunics and feathered helmets, their weapons arrayed in a sequence of staggered parallel lines. Claude thus achieved an effect of progression and gradual descent from left to right while avoiding overlap between adjacent figures.
Inscription: Black chalk, upper right: Claudio; pen and brown ink on verso: di Claudio Lorenese
Vendor: Matthiesen
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seventeenth Century French Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum," February 2, 1996–April 25, 1996.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 6, 1997–January 4, 1998.

Röthlisberger 1968.989; Bean and Turcic 1986.60
Marcel G. Röthlisberger Claude Lorrain: The Paintings. 2 vols., New Haven, 1961, cat. no. LV 180, p. 426 (vol. 1).

Marcel G. Röthlisberger Claude Lorrain: The Drawings. 2 vols., Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968, cat. no. 989, fig. no. pl. 989, pp. 367-368 (vol, ill.

H. Diane Russell Claude Lorrain, 1600-1682. Ex. cat. Washington, D.C., 1982, cat. no. 61, pp. 272-73, ill.

Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 15th-18th Century French Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986, cat. no. 60, p. 62, ill.

Hilliard T. Goldfarb From Fontainebleau to the Louvre: French Drawing from the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, December 13, 1989-January 28, 1990, cat. no. under no. 36, p. 80.

Jean-Claude Boyer, Emmanuel Bury Claude le Lorrain et le monde des dieux. Ex. cat. Paris, 2001, fig. no. 6, pp. 82, 85, ill.

Emmanuelle Brugerolles , et al. Le dessin en France au XVIIe siècle dans les collections de l'École des Beaux-Arts. Ex. cat. Paris, 2001, pp. 170, 171, no.

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