Landscape with Apollo and the Muses Claude Lorrain Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Landscape with Apollo and the Muses is a 1652 oil painting by Claude Lorrain. It currently resides within the permanent collection of the Scottish National Gallery.

This impressive landscape is around three metres in width, making it one of Claude's largest artworks. By the 1650s he had been working successfully within this genre for several decades and had built an impressive list of wealthy patrons. His landscapes would often include figures within the foreground who would represent different themes, which in this case relates to Apollo and the Muses. Apollo entertains the muses on one side of the river, whilst on the other we find further figures and animals. Claude produced this painting for Cardinal Pamphili and boasted a number of high ranking religious figures within his list of patrons. Cardinal Camillo Astalli-Pamphili, was, at that time, a young cleric who quickly rose to the rank of cardinal-nephew in late 1650 by Pope Innocent X. It is believed that this piece was purchased by its present owners in 1960 through a combination of public funds and donations.

There is a small settlement in the far distance which is believed to represent Rome, which is where the artist spent most of his life. A tall mountain peaks out in the far distance and there is another open expanse of water which passes through just in front. Both sides of the canvas feature tall trees which help to frame the composition and was a common technique used by landscape painters, dating back many centuries even before the time of Claude. The sky is bright blue, with a rich tone, and the artist rarely used much detail within his skies, allowing a flat tone without any threatening cloud systems that would have removed his postive atmosphere. It would be later that the Romanticists experimented with different sky moods, after taking other elements of Claude's work into their own. He helped the genre to become respected as a specialist interest for the first time.

Landscape with Apollo and the Muses is held by the Scottish Galleries which is a group representing a number of national art venues. They boast many of the great European names of the past within the overall collection and also regularly loan in other items from around the UK. Claude Lorrain was popular with British collectors in the 18th century and that explains why so many of his paintings are to be found there today, with many others still remaining within Italy, where he worked, and also France, where he was originally from. Claude continues to be regarded as an influential artist who played a very important role which many other artists would then take advantage of in the centuries that followed on afterwards.