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Claude, 'Landscape with Narcissus and Echo', 1644

Key facts
Full title Landscape with Narcissus and Echo
Artist Claude
Artist dates 1604/5? - 1682
Date made 1644
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 94.6 × 118.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir George Beaumont, 1826
Inventory number NG19
Location Room 34
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Landscape with Narcissus and Echo

Claude takes the subject of this painting from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The nymph Echo is in love with the beautiful youth Narcissus, who rejects her. In Claude’s painting, the goddess Nemesis punishes Narcissus by making him fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.

The castle in the background is not mentioned in Ovid’s story, and this is probably imaginary or based on ruins in the countryside near Rome, where Claude spent most of his life. Two nymphs hide in nearby trees: the lower nymph is probably Echo, who according to the story dies leaving only her voice. The nymph reclining at the bottom of the painting was originally partially covered with a blue robe, but has been repainted as nude. The reason for the change in her appearance remains unknown – this could be the work of Claude himself or a later artist. This figure often appears in paintings as a water nymph: she rests one arm on an urn and a gentle stream flows out of it.

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