Claude Gellee

Landscape with Christ on the Road to Emmaus

Landscape with Christ on the Road to Emmaus
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Claude Gellee
Landscape, Painting, Oil on canvas, 99x132 cm
Origin: France, 1660

"Landscape with Christ on the Road to Emmaus" dates from a rather short period in Lorrain's career called the ?grand manner,? the late 1650s and early 1660s, when the artist most closely followed the principles of Classicism. The works of this time were devoted to the most remarkable events of the Gospel. We can see in them the influence of Poussin's late landscapes, expressed in the special grandeur of the views and monumental character of the composition. In Lorrain's canvases, nature is subordinated to the principle of reason, but the rationalism of the construction of space does not prevent the artist from achieving very fine poetic effects.

The foreground is restricted on both sides by high trees and the remains of ancient buildings. Towards the background the space narrows, leading the eye of the viewer into the distance, where we can see travellers wandering along a road and the discernible sails of boats skimming along the smooth surface of the bay. The landscape motif has been chosen very carefully. Nature is conventional and idealized. The main task of the landscape is to serve as a worthy framework for the biblical event. In the foreground there are the ruins of an arch, which reminds us, in some of its details, of the arch of Titus that Lorrain often depicted. Beyond there is a round tower and a destroyed structure, an ancient tomb, next to which a herd of cattle is grazing. The restrained colour range of the painting, the indeterminate state of nature and the diffuse lighting do not distract our attention from the content of the event unfolding.

Personage: Christ
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: purchased from a Parisian merchant through mediation of E. Falconet, 1771
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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