by Scholes, Robert
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Claude Lorrain (1600 - 1682)
He was Christened Claude Gellée by poor parents at Chamagne, a village in the then independent duchy of Lorraine. He received little schooling, and, according to his first biographer, Joachim von Sandrart, was brought up to be a pastry cook. His parents seem to have died when he was 12 years old, and, within the next few years, he travelled south to Rome.
In Rome he was trained as an artist by Agostino Tassi, a landscapist and the leading Italian painter of illusionistic architectural frescoes. At what stage and for how long he was apprenticed is uncertain, and, either before or during this period, Claude probably spent two years in Naples with Goffredo Wals, another pupil of Tassi. At some point he became known as "le Lorrain"--the man from Lorraine.
In 1625, he seems to have returned to France, settling in Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, where he worked for a year as assistant to Claude Deruet on some frescoes (since destroyed) in the Carmelite church. But, in the winter of 1626-27, Claude returned to Rome and settled there permanently. He is known as a painter of idealized landscapes, and was especially popular in England in the later eighteenth century and the Romantic period. The English of that era called him simply "Claude"--as if he were the only one. This use of his first name conveys affection as well as respect.