ART / Picture choices: Three painters with different views of the landscape select a work that most impresses them at the National's new Claude exhibition
Tuesday 01 February 1994
Claude's legacy is huge. He infected the 18th century and established the rules of romantic landscape that culminated in Turner. A picture which particularly strikes me is the one from the Ashmolean. He's using hard-edged areas of paint but the colour is determined by the areas of blue - the sky, the water and the shadow. He's no colourist. He uses tone. As the tones become closer together the colours are much less evident. The painting appears to give off a heavy feeling of atmosphere, suffused with the feeling of ultramarine.
PATRICK HERON ON 'LANDSCAPE WITH JACOB, LABAN AND HIS DAUGHTERS'
This great painting has nothing whatever to do with the subject indicated in the title. It exists to make visible purely visual experience of the external world and to communicate the intense emotions which the purely visual - colour, form and spatial illusion - generates. Claude's real subject matter is landscape and the organisation of his composition.
WILLIAM TILLYER ON 'SEAPORT WITH THE EMBARKATION OF ST URSULA'
Claude's paintings are theatre. Here he creates a proscenium with balanced elements to left and right and paints a blinding light beyond the horizon. Every detail is in deference to this light. The emotion comes through the poetic, organic quality of the light. 200 years later Turner was to do the same thing. Claude takes you through the picture plane, beyond the horizon into infinite space - an emotional space lit with golden light. He's at the pinnacle of the Renaissance tradition of 'virtual reality'. His space goes on and on.
Andrew Graham-Dixon's Claude review will appear in Saturday's magazine
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