Claude Gellée, also known as Claude Lorrain, was the most successful landscape painter of the 17th century. Among his patrons were numerous members of European nobility, including Philip IV of Spain and Pope Urban VIII.
Claude’s early work shows the influence of both his Italian contemporaries and North European artists working in Rome. His mainstay was idealised landscapes and port scenes, in which he often mixed the real with the fictive, and his great innovation was painting the sun facing the viewer.
The unparalleled delicacy with which he painted the effects of light, often at sunrise or sunset, maximised the poetic impact of his works. This, and the balance of his compositions, give his pictures a timeless serenity. During the 18th century, his paintings became especially sought-after in Britain, even influencing garden design. He was also much admired by English landscape painters, including Constable and Turner.