Extract from L’Autoportrait en miettes, by Philippe Claudel
Claude Gellée, known as “Claude” or “Le Lorrain” (Chamagne, c. 1602-1604 – Rome, 1682), Pastoral landscape, oil on canvas, 1635
"I'm looking for parts of the Lorraine landscape in Claude’s works, but I can’t see any. But that’s because he left when he was 13 or 14 years old. Went to Italy. Claude became an Italian. He became famous there. And rich. Good life, they say. He died there.
Did he look after the animals in the fields of Chamagne? Certainly. But later on, when he painted a shepherd and his flock, he didn’t paint that peaceful valley. It’s something else. An ideal: sea in the distance, a mountain, rocks, buildings from Latium or Campania. The shepherd is playing the flute. He was born in the time of Virgil. […]
I often wonder what this little shepherd can be playing as he blows into his pipe. What notes are escaping from this wooden instrument that is his companion?
A tarantella from Naples or Sicily? A Roman galliard? Or the tune of an ancient nursery rhyme from the Duchy of Lorraine that tells of lush grass, Sainte and oak groves and which mothers, including Claude’s mother, would sing in the evening to their children whose heavy eyelids were closing onto dreams ?”