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(Claude Gelée) (1600-1682) French landscape painter. He was active in Rome from 1627. His distinctive, luminous, Classical style had a great impact on late 17th- and 18th-century taste. In his paintings, insignificant figures (mostly mythological or historical) are typically lost in great expanses of poetic scenery, as in The Enchanted Castle 1664 (National Gallery, London).
Left an orphan as a child, he is thought to have lived for a while with his brother, a woodcarver, at Freiburg, and is said to have worked in his early days as a pastry cook. Traveling merchants, possibly relatives, took the boy to Italy, where he found humble employment in artists’ studios. He may have studied under an obscure view-painter, Gottfried Waals, at Naples, and at Rome was servant-assistant to Agostino Tassi, the landscape painter and former pupil of Paul Bril. He made one journey back to his native country 1625, but at the age of 27 settled in Rome, where he spent the rest of his life, painting works which were highly esteemed and in great demand among patrons resident in Rome, and visiting connoisseurs, French and English. His pictorial record of his compositions, the Liber Veritatis (engraved by Earlom in 1777), seems to have been as much a reference list of works that had gone abroad as a list of authentic pictures that could expose forgery.
His art was to some extent based on the formulae of Elsheimer, Bril and Tassi, and there are threads which link it with the landscape of Domenichino, but salient facts are that Claude was a close and original student of nature and a northerner, the more deeply impressed for that reason by the ruins and ancient associations of Rome and its environs. The poetic sense of wonder in a legendary land is seen in such a work as the Enchanted Castle, which inspired Keats, or in the great Seaports of the National Gallery London and Louvre. The duality between realist and dreamer may be seen in the comparison of these with the direct drawings from nature such as the View on the Tiber. (This and many other drawings are in the British Museum.) Unlike his friend and confrčre in Rome, Poussin, he was “classical” only in the implication of subject and not in style. To a simple and little varying scheme of composition he added picturesque irregularities of form, and indeed was a founder of that “picturesque” tradition which,
in 18th-century England, reproduced “Claudes” in nature— in the landscape gardening of wealthy art-lovers’ estates. He was not a figure draftsman and variations of style seem to indicate that figures in his paintings were put in for him by other hands.
French painter; see Claude Lorrain.

1. Loren Klod

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