A Claude Lorrain acquired by the Getty Museum

Claude (1600-1682)
The Abduction of Europa, 1647
Oil on canvas - 96 x 122 cm
Los Angeles, Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

1/4/08 — Acquisition — Los Angeles, Getty Museum — The museum in California enriched its collections a few months ago with a painting by Claude Lorrain representing Coast View with the Abduction of Europa (ill.). A reproduction appeared in the Liber Veritatis [1] in the year 1647 allowing for a precise dating. The canvas was commissioned by an unknown French patron and later belonged to Joshua Reynolds. In 1930, it was acquired by Jacques Goudstikker whose collection, plundered by the Nazis, was recently returned to his heirs (see news item of 11/2/06 on La Tribune de l’Art in French). The painting had been on deposit for some time at the Musee Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam [2].

At least four paintings by Claude Lorrain representing this subject are known, other than this one. The first, which dates from 1634 (before the start of the Liber Veritatis), is held at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth [3]. The Pushkin Museum in Moscow owns another Abduction of Europa painted in 1655 whereas the Queen of England’s collection holds a version dated 1667. In 1986 a private collection was known to have one dating from 1658 [4]. All of these works reveal a similar composition. A drawing by Claude on the same subject is at the Louvre and is perhaps preparatory for the painting just acquired by the Getty Museum.

In concluding this news item, it is interesting to note that the Getty is particularly appreciative of works originating from restitutions, especially if these have previously been exhibited in museums. In fact, this last criterion seems to be the most important : one could easily bet that a painting which comes up for sale after having been shown in an establishment will end up on the walls of this California museum [5].

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 1er avril 2008


[1] Let us remember that the Liber Veritatis, held at the British Museum, is a collection of drawings by the artist where he kept a record of all the works from his workshop, particularly to prevent counterfeiting.

[2] Cf. Chefs-d’œuvre de la peinture française des musées néerlandais, XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles, catalogue of the exhibition in Dijon, Paris and Rotterdam, 1992-1993, n° 32, p. 150-152.

[3] Cf. Jean-Claude Boyer, Claude Lorrain et le monde des dieux, Epinal, Musée départemental d’Art ancien et contemporain, 11 May through 20 August 2001., RMN, p. 40-44)

[4] Cf. Marcel Roethlisberger, Tout l’œuvre peint de Claude Lorrain, Paris, 1986, n° 214, p. 114.

[5] We could list for example the Tiepolo returned by the Louvre, the Guardi by Toulouse (see news item of 19/7/05 in French), the Portrait of Alfonso d’Avalos by Titian was displayed for a long time at the Louvre (see news item of 2/12/03 in French). Also, the Messerschmidt bust acquired by the Louvre beating out the Getty (see news item of 27/1/05 in French) comes from an Austrian museum.

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