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 Lorrain, Claude (French painter and draftsman, 1604-1682, active in Italy) , Landscape Near Rome with a View of the Ponte Molle

Core Record

Title Landscape Near Rome with a View of the Ponte Molle
Alternative Title Landscape with Shepherds, the Ponte Molle
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Lorrain, Claude (French painter and draftsman, 1604-1682, active in Italy)
Date 1645 (dated)
Signed yes
Description The Ponte Molle, a favoured motif for Claude, was a part-Roman, part-fifteenth century bridge spanning the River Tiber to the north of the Rome. Claude's reason for choosing the bridge may provide a key to the painting's deeper meaning. It was the scene of the battle in 312 AD between Constantine I and his rival Maxentius before which Constantine saw a vision of the cross with the words 'In this sign you will conquer'. After winning a great victory, he converted and established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The battle represented the end of paganism and the triumph of Christianity. The two goats fighting in the centre foreground perhaps recall the theme of conflict. The goat is also associated with Satan and the one depicted falling from the rustic bridge may symbolise the fall of paganism.

The painting provides a range of Claudian formal devices that were to have a huge impact on the British landscape artists of the eighteenth century such as the repoussoir of the tree, the secondary perspective to the left, and the banding of dark and light planes into the distance. Claude also influenced British eighteenth century architecture. The design of Cronkhill in Shrewsbury was inspired by this painting.

Current Accession Number 1955P111
Former Accession Number P.111´55
Inscription front lr 'Claude Rome 1645'
Subject landscape (Ponte Molle, Rome); figure (shepherds; animal (goats)
Measurements 73.7 x 96.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Ernest E. Cook through the National Art-Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance 'painted for a gentleman in Paris' (Liber Veritatis (no. 90), M de Tranblay ;; Bragge sale, London, 3rd day, 1743, lot 30 as View of Ponte Mola, bought by M. Furnese [;]; Robert Dingley Esq. (engraved by Major in 1753); Arthur Pond [;]; Richard Houlditch sale, London, 5 March 1760, bought by 2nd Earl of Ashburnham; Ashburnham sale, Christie's, 20 July 1850, lot 78, bought by in; Sotheby's, 24 June 1953, lot 62, bought by Gooden & Fox for Ernest E. Cook.
Principal Exhibitions Landscape in French Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1949-50, cat. no. 23; Pictures from Birmingham, Agnew's, London, 1957, cat. no. 34; Primitives to Picasso, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1962, cat. no. 94; Gifts to Galleries, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1968, cat. no. 15; Claude Lorrain, Hayward Gallery, London, 1969, cat. no. 19; Old Masters from the City of Birmingham, Wildenstein and Company, London, 1970, cat. no. 17; A Gift to the Nation: The Fine and Decorative Art Collections of Ernest E. Cook, Holburne Museum of Art, 1991, cat. no. 15; Claude Lorrain, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1969; Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century, Tate Gallery, London, 1976, cat. no. 1; Thomas Gainsborough, Tate Britain, London, 2002, cat. no. 145., ill.; Dreaming of Italy, Mauritshuis, 2006.
Publications Smith, J. Catalogue Raisonné: French Painters, 1842, no. 90; City Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1960, pl. 14 & 15; Roethlisberger, M., Claude Lorrain, 1961, p. 246-7, no. 90; Roethlisberger, M. and D. Cecchi, L'Opera Completa di Claude Lorrain, 1975, no. 153; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 30, ill.; Wright, C., Masterpieces of Reality, 1985, p. 93; Sutton, D., 'Pictures for the Nation', Country Life, 9 June 1955, p.1502-04; Langdon, H., Claude Lorrain, 1989, p. 77, pl. 61; Thomas, D., 'Claude Lorrain and English Landscape', Connoisseur, December 1969, p. 251, fig. 21; Beauty, Horror and Immensity: Picturesque Landscape in Britian 1750-1850, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1981, no.2; Crandell, G., Nature Pictorialised: The View in Landscape History, John Hopkins University Press, 1993, pp. 118-120, fig. 9.2.
Notes '463A' on back on canvas label. Liber Veritatis was the graphic record Claude kept of each of his paintings from 1635 as insurance against forgeries.

Note in Ashburnham Cat 'bought from Dingley'.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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