Claude noted in his Liber Veritatis that this picture was painted in Rome for an unnamed client in Lyons. Although the foreground and middle ground have darkened, the horizon preserves its characteristic luminosity. Once again Claude used the countryside around Rome—the Campagna—as his direct source of inspiration for the poetic landscape depicted in this canvas.
Claude and Poussin were close friends in Rome and both played key roles in developing the tradition of Classical landscape painting. In contrast to the stoic themes, elegiac spirit, and extreme weather sometimes found in his countryman’s landscapes, however, Claude sticks close to the idealized, harmonious nature of an imagined Golden Age, most tellingly revealed during a sunrise or sunset. His works were particularly admired by English collectors and this example from his middle period belonged by 1755 to the influential painter and first president of London’s Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds.
A painting of similar size and dated 1647, Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden) is almost certainly the pendant to Sunrise. The composition for the New York painting appears as drawing no. 9 in Claude’s Liber Veritatis, the book in which he kept a record of his pictorial ideas. The reverse of the drawing is inscribed in the artist’s hand “Tableaux faict pour lions” (Pictures [picture] made for Lyons). Claude’s drawing after the Dresden work appears as no. 110 and its verso is inscribed “quadro pour mr parasson a Lions . . . (or “picture for monsieur Parasson in Lyons”). Based on the date of the Dresden picture it is reasonable to assign a date of about 1647 or 1648 to Sunrise. Two drawings of herdsmen in the Louvre, Paris (Roethlisberger 1968, nos. 628 and 739, ill.), may be studies for the figure at the lower left, and a drawing of a farmhouse, also in the Louvre (Roethlisberger 1968, no. 737), appears to be the source for the building on the hillside. The Metropolitan Museum owns a drawing by Gaspard Dughet that seems to have been copied from the sketch after Sunrise in Claude’s Liber Veritatis.
The relatively low horizon here, the emphasis on the upper atmosphere with its fine, trailing pink clouds, and the relative transparency of widely spaced trees create an effect of great luminosity and breadth. The extended procession of grazing animals and shepherds in the foreground, a device that appears frequently in Claude's landscapes, further stresses the composition's horizontality. Some spatial definition has been lost as the foreground and middleground have darkened over time, a not uncommon occurrence in Claude’s paintings.
[Mary Sprinson de Jesús 2011]
?Monsieur Parasson, Lyons (before 1653); De Merval, Paris (until 1768; his sale, Rémy, Paris, May 9, 1768, no. 101, as "Sunrise," with a description matching our picture; sold with no. 100, "Sunset, herdsmen driving home cattle across a river," for Fr 5,000); Sir Joshua Reynolds, London (by 1775–d. 1792; bequeathed to Hume); Sir Abraham Hume, Baronet (from 1792; given to Long); his son-in-law, Sir Charles Long, later Baron Farnborough, Bromley Hill Place, Kent (by 1819–d. 1838); his nephew, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Long, Bromley Hill Place (1838–d. 1881; his estate sale, Christie's, London, March 11, 1882, no. 159, for £425.5.0 to Wertheimer); [Asher Wertheimer, London, 1882]; C. H. T. Hawkins, London (until 1896; his sale, Christie's, London, May 11, 1896, no. 48); Sir Francis Cook, Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey (1896–d. 1901); by descent to Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, Doughty House and Jersey, Channel Islands (1939–46; cat., 1915, vol. 3, no. 442); [F. A. Drey, London, 1946]; [Pinakos, Inc. (Rudolf J. Heinemann), and Knoedler, New York, 1946–47; sold to MMA]
London. No. 28 Haymarket. "Ralph's Exhibition of Pictures," 1791, no. 9 or 11 (lent by Sir Joshua Reynolds, probably this picture).
London. British Institution. 1819, no. 76 (lent by Rt. Hon. C. Long, M.P.).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," January 6–March 15, 1902, no. 61 (lent by Sir Frederick Cook).
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 1.
Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–May 9, 2013, no. 1.
Liber Veritatis; or A Collection of Prints, after the Original Designs of Claude Le Lorrain . . . Executed by Richard Earlom . . . Vol. 2, Boydell ed. London, –1819, p. 3, no. 109, ill. (Earlom's 1775 engraving after Claude's drawing), calls our picture "A Herdsman and a Woman on an Ass, Passing a River with Cattle"; lists it as painted for Lyons and later in the collections of M. de Merval, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and "now" Lord Farnborough.
Sir Abraham Hume, Baronet. Catalogue of Sir Abraham Hume's Collection of Pictures. 1820–29, National Art Library, Great Britain, MSL/1345/1940, p. 76 [see Refs. Broun 1977–78 and 1987], notes that it has been "more than once engraved under the name of the Waders" and that "the sky and distance are touched with infinite truth and spirit: the beauty of the composition in some degree owing to none of the groups of trees being carried to the top of the picture, which always gives a crowded and confined look".
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 8, London, 1837, pp. 248–49, no. 109.
Léon de Laborde. "Notes manuscrites de Claude Gellé, dit Le Lorrain: Extraites du recueil de ses dessins." Archives de l'art français: Recueil de documents inédits relatifs à l'histoire des arts en France Ed. Ph. de Chennevières. 1 (1851–52), p. 449, no. 109.
Mme Mark Pattison [Lady Dilke] J. Rouam. Claude Lorrain, sa vie et ses oeuvres d'après des documents inédits. Paris, 1884, p. 216, no. 109, precisely records the manuscript note on the Liber Veritatis drawing but cites incorrect dimensions for this picture (97 x 72 cm).
Owen J. Dullea. Claude Gellée le Lorrain. London, 1887, p. 110, no. 109, calls it "Landscape: A Ford".
Maurice W. Brockwell inA Catalogue of the Paintings at Doughty House, Richmond, & Elsewhere in the Collection of Sir Frederick Cook, Bt., visconde de Monserrate. Ed. Sir Herbert Frederick Cook. Vol. 3, London, 1915, p. 60, no. 442, ill., as "Large Landscape: Sunset".
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Landscape by Claude Lorrain." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 5 (June 1947), pp. 245–51, ill., claims that it belonged to Julius Angerstein, erroneously identifying it with no. 84 in Sir Joshua Reynolds's sale; notes that the companion recorded with our painting in the 1768 de Merval sale, a sunset with herdsmen driving cattle across a river (Liber Veritatis 103 [now Timken Art Gallery, San Diego]), was executed for Avignon, not Lyon, and believes that Claude's Flight into Egypt in Dresden [Gemäldegalerie], recorded in Liber Veritatis 110 and like ours made for a collector in Lyons, was the original companion to our picture; dates our picture about 1647, the date of the Dresden Flight, and supposes that it was with the Dresden landscape in Cardinal Mazarin's collection; identifies a drawing with a herdsman driving goats and cows (Louvre, RF 4578), two small landscape drawings (British Museum) and one of a farmhouse on a hilltop (Uffizi) as possibly related to it; believes the figures here were painted by Claude himself
George Isarlo. Les arts (April 1949), p. 8, no. 109 [see Ref. Sterling 1955], mentions some of the collections in which our painting appeared.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 83–85, ill., dates this picture about 1647 or 1648 and erroneously identifies it with lot 84 in Reynolds's sale; considers it rash to assume that it was a pendant to the Dresden Flight into Egypt, observing that although they are the same size and may both have been commissioned by a collector in Lyons, they have been paired with other works by Claude in the past; ascribes the figures to the artist himself; mentions a drawing by Gaspard Dughet recently acquired by the MMA that was apparently copied from Claude's Liber Veritatis drawing recording our picture.
Marcel Röthlisberger. "Les pendants dans l'oeuvre de Claude Lorrain." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 51 (April 1958), pp. 219, 228 n. 17, mentions this picture and the Dresden Flight into Egypt in a discussion of pendants in the work of Claude, calling them "les deux paysages idylliques pour Parasson"; observes that in their "contrastes équilibrés" they serve as a fine complement to each other.
Marcel Röthlisberger. Claude Lorrain: The Paintings. New Haven, 1961, vol. 1, pp. 272–74, 276; vol. 2, fig. 190, sees illegible traces of a signature at the bottom and suggests this picture was painted in 1647; rejects its identification with the landscape that appeared as no. 84 in Reynolds's sale and considers it possible that our picture and the Dresden Flight into Egypt were pendants: "size, inner proportions, and pastoral mode correspond, atmosphere and composition contrast"; notes, on the other hand, that "their pastoral characteristics are more alike than in other pairs of Claude" and the Dresden picture "belonged separately" to Mazarin in 1653; observes further that the Claude cited as no. 1287 in Mazarin's 1661 inventory [the Dresden picture was no. 1289], measuring 116.5 x 149 cm with the frame and described as a landscape with "anticquailles"—or ruins—and cows and figures crossing a river, is not likely to be our picture, which has no ruins.
Marcel Roethlisberger. Claude Lorrain: The Drawings. Berkeley, 1968, vol. 1, pp. 245–46, 281, dates our picture 1646–47 and publishes related drawings (vol. 2, pls. 628, 631, 739): two drawings of a herdsman with goats and cattle (Louvre, Paris, RF 26,702 and RF 4,578) and Liber Veritatis 109; firmly states that our painting is the pendant to the landscape in Dresden and that it was, presumably, like the latter, done for M. Parasson.
Doretta Cecchi inL'opera completa di Claude Lorrain. Milan, 1975, p. 108, no. 174, ill. p. 108 and colorpl. 26, as probably the pendant to the Dresden picture.
Francis Broun. Letters to Lucy Oakley. 1977–78, traces the history of our painting from the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds to that of Lord Farnborough, noting that our picture did not appear in Reynolds's sale but was bequeathed by him to his friend Abraham Hume; suggests that it was one of the two landscapes by Claude shown at Ralph's Exhibition in 1791.
Michael Kitson. Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis. London, 1978, p. 119, publishes the related drawing Liber Veritatis 109, noting that it corresponds exactly with our picture, although its composition is more compressed at the left; believes LV 109 is "almost certainly" the pendant to LV 110 [which records the Dresden picture], observing that the two drawings themselves are very similar in style and technique and the compositions of the paintings are also of the same basic type.
Claude Lorrain (1600–1682): An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, Partly from Private Collections, to Mark the Artist's Tercentenary. Exh. cat., Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. London, 1982, p. 49.
Pierre Rosenberg. France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1982, p. 360, no. 3, ill. [French ed., La peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collection américaines, Paris, 1982].
Marcel Roethlisberger. Im Licht von Claude Lorrain: Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst München. Munich, 1983, pp. 164, 207, 286.
Christopher Wright. The French Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Boston, 1985, p. 163.
Francis Broun. "Sir Joshua Reynolds' Collection of Paintings." PhD diss., Princeton University, 1987, vol. 2, pp. 192–93, 195–98, pl. 52.
Nicholas Penny. The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings. Vol. 2, Venice 1540–1600. London, 2008, pp. 458, 460.
Richard Rand. "'Landscape with Erminia' and Claude's Paintings from Nature." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, pp. 48, 62 n. 8, fig. 38 (color).
Peter Barnet and Wendy A. Stein inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, p. 42, ill. pp. 36, 43 (color).
Keith Christiansen inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, p. 206, no. 1, ill. [Chinese ed., Hefei Shi, 2013, pp. 4–5, no. 1, ill. (color)].
Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), p. 11, fig. 8 (color).