Jacob with Laban and his Daughters

Claude Lorrain1676

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

"Claude is considered the first great landscape painter, known especially for his ability to create a sense of almost infinite space and distance through compositional devices (alternating bands of light and shade, trees placed to lead the eye back) and hazy atmosphere. His acute observation of natural phenomena was unparalleled.

Some of the ‘haze’ in this picture is misleading, however, caused by a chemical reaction known as ‘blanching’ in the varnish or pigment layer. The castle-topped hill on the left provides a good example of this effect.

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  • Title: Jacob with Laban and his Daughters
  • Date: 1676
  • Physical Dimensions: w945 x h720 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • null: An earlier version (1654) of the same subject is at Petworth House, Sussex (National Trust). DPG205 is based on Claude's etching of 1663 and his drawing of it in the Liber Veritatis (188) is inscried 'quadro facto per illmo sigre francesco Mayer di ottobre 12 1676 Roma Claudio Gillee fecit. I. V.'Preparatory drawings are in the Louvre (dated 1676) and New York, Morgan Library. Liber Veritatis 188 is in the British Museum.
  • Work Nationality: French
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: Painted for Franz Mayer, Regensburg; Earl of Halifax; his sale, 10 Mar. 1739, lot 80 ('A Morning'); Duke of St Albans; his sale, London, Phillips ('The Property of a Nobleman'), 8 Jun. 1798, lot 78. Bt Bourgeois (for Desenfans?), £220.10s (note in copy of the catalogue in the Courtauld Institute of Art); London, Noel Desenfans and/or Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1798-1807; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: [inscribed CLADIO IVF ROMAE.]
  • Further Information: "Jacob has struck a bargain with his uncle: he will tend Laban's flocks for seven years in exchange for his younger daughter, Rachel. At the end of this time we see Laban fobbing him off with his first-born, Leah. Jacob will have to labour another seven years to earn his first choice of bride. Claude probably chose this episode from the Book of Genesis because it conveys a world of primitive nomads, where wealth is measured in livestock - a kind of Biblical Golden Age. The architectural forms are simple and pre-Classical - with squat towers and undecorated walls. Communication depends upon primitive vessels and half-hidden paths. The village citadel nestles in the woods so that its outline is rounded and organic like an untouched hillside. The world is fresh and overgrown. The subject is from Genesis XXIX, 15-19. Claude treated the subject on at least two other occasions (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, and Petworth House, West Sussex). Claude excels in the depiction of air, especially the way in which it glows in the slanting sunlight at dawn and dusk. Leonardo da Vinci first observed that distances in landscape appear blue, especially at these times: Claude soaks the whole scene in this blue cast, as if every object, however close, is being looked at through a veil of coloured air. In this way he gives his landscape the sensation of space, but also an intangible, dream-like quality. "
  • Artist: Claude Lorrain
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)


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