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TWO CLAUDE LORRAIN MASTERPIECES GO ON VIEW TOGETHER AT THE GETTY MUSEUM

The Getty's newly acquired "Coast View with the Abduction of Europa" and the MET's "The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet" are installed together alongside the Getty's collection of Baroque paintings

February 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES—Beginning this week, two masterpieces by Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (c. 1604/5–82)—the great French classical landscape painter—will go on view alongside the Getty’s stellar collection of Baroque paintings in the East Pavilion of the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. The first, Coast View with the Abduction of Europa (c. 1645), was acquired by the Museum in September 2007, and will be permanently installed in these galleries alongside other highlights from the collection including Rubens’s Calydonian Boar Hunt (about 1611-12) and Rembrandt’s Abduction of Europa (1632). The second, The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet (c.1643), is a generous loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which will be on view until May 11.

Anne Woollett, associate curator of paintings at the Getty Museum says, “The installation of these two paintings together is a rare opportunity to enjoy Claude's ambitious and majestic treatment of literary themes, as well as his particular interest in seascapes, which formed some of the most remarkable images from the highpoint of his career."

Considered one of the greatest landscape painters of all time, Claude Lorrain transformed the genre and influenced the course of painting with the refined “ideal” landscape where the representation of nature was seen to surpass nature’s own beauty, order and harmony.  His unrivalled command of light and atmosphere imbued subjects from classical poetry and biblical history with a lyricism that delighted his distinguished patrons, and raised the status of landscape painting in Rome to a highly collectible genre.  Claude’s vision, based on the diligent study of the Roman countryside and judicious command of compositional structure, was respected and imitated across Europe over the succeeding centuries—leaving an indelible impact on the genre.

The Getty’s Coast View with the Abduction of Europa

 Painted in 1645, Coast View with the Abduction of Europa tells the ancient tale of Jupiter—who disguised as a magnificent white bull lured Europa, princess of Tyre, to climb upon his back and whisked her away to Crete— against the backdrop of a fortified harbor.  Claude dresses Europa in delicate lilac and vivid blue and depicts her sitting demurely on the bull’s back, while her four attendants adorn her and the bull with wreaths and flowers.  He uses familiar architectural features of the port city of Tyre to depict it in the misty atmosphere in the distance: the distinctive square tower (right), stone bridge with two round towers (center, right), and the imposing watch tower, with its minutely described rusticated base and partially crenellated top.  Numerous small figures populate the port and fill the rigging of ships at anchor.

Coast View is the first painting by Claude to enter the Getty’s collection and joins Poussin’s Landscape with a Calm and The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth, Rubens’ Calydonian Boar Hunt, and Rembrandt’s Abduction of Europa as a cornerstone of the collection of Baroque art and one of the Museum’s most important paintings. It also complements the Museum’s substantial holdings of Claude’s drawings, including: a related harbor scene, Figures in a Landscape before a Harbor (c. 1630s); the atmospheric View of Tivoli (1640); a remarkable scene of contemporary toil, Landscape in Latium with Farm Laborers (1660-63); and, a large figure composition with inscriptions, Apollo and the Muses (1674). 

The MET’s The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet

Painted in 1643, The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet portrays an episode from Virgil (Aeneid, V) in which the Trojan women set fire to their ships to end years of wandering after the fall of Troy.  Clouds and rain in the distance indicate a coming storm, which was sent by Jupiter to quench the blaze and will ultimately save all but four ships. The impressively decorated galleons with minutely described rigging, and the sweeping seascape, attest to Claude’s intensive exploration of maritime themes, including the contemporary Coast View with the Abduction of Europa, in these years.  Claude noted in his "Liber Veritatis" (Claude’s own catalogue of his work) that the picture was painted in Rome for Girolamo Farnese. The learned prelate, who returned to the city in 1643, may have chosen this episode from Virgil's "Aeneid" (V: 604–695) to allude to his years of itinerant service as papal nuncio combating Calvinism in remote Alpine cantons of the Swiss Confederation.

This painting has been generously lent in reciprocity for Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with a Calm (Un Temps[s] calme et serein), currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York exhibition In Light of Poussin: The Classical Landscape Tradition (2008).

Additional information about the special installation is available online at http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/claude_installation/

Note to editors:  Images available on request.

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Rebecca Taylor
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retaylor@getty.edu

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