Perseus and the Origin of Coral

Artist: Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, Chamagne 1604/5?–1682 Rome)

Date: ca. 1671

Medium: Black chalk, sepia and black ink, sepia and gray wash heightened with white

Dimensions: 10 x 12 13/16 in. (25.4 x 32.5 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.661


The rarely depicted subject of Perseus and the Origin of Coral is derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses. This drawing is one of seven known preparatory studies for one of Claude's most important late paintings: "Coast View with Perseus and the Origin of Coral" (Coke Collection, Holkham Hall, Norfolk), four of which depict the entire composition. The painting was commissioned by his patron, Cardinal Camillo Massimi, and executed in 1674.