Water theme in the paintings of Claude Lorrain and Alex Dodge

Claude Lorrain

Born: c.1600; Champagne, France
Died: 21 November 1682
Active Years: 1630 - 1682
Field: painting
Nationality: French
Art Movement: Baroque, Rococo
Genre: landscape

Claude Lorrain (born Claude Gellée, dit le Lorrain; c. 1600 – 23 November 1682) was a French painter, draughtsman and engraver of the Baroque era. He spent most of his life in Italy, and is admired for his achievements in landscape painting.

Claude’s parents both died when he was twelve years old and he then lived at Freiburg with an elder brother (Jean Gellée). Jean was an artist and taught Claude the rudiments of his profession. Claude then travelled to Italy, first working for Goffredo Wals in Naples, and then joining the workshop of Agostino Tassi in Rome.
On his travels, Claude briefly stayed in Marseilles, Genoa, and Venice, and had the opportunity to study nature in France, Italy, and Bavaria. The first dated painting by Claude, Landscape with Cattle and Peasants (Philadelphia Museum of Art) from 1629, already shows well-developed style and technique. In the next few years his reputation was growing steadily, as evidenced by commissions from the French ambassador in Rome (1633) and the King of Spain (1634–35). Baldinucci reported that a particularly important commission came from Cardinal Bentivoglio, who was impressed by the two landscapes Claude painted for him, and recommended the artist to Pope Urban VIII. Four paintings were made for the Pope in 1635–38. From this point, Claude’s reputation was secured. He went on to fulfil many important commissions, both Italian and international. In 1636 he started cataloguing his works, making tinted outline drawings in six paper books prepared for this purpose of all pictures sent to different countries, and on the back of each drawing he wrote the name of the purchaser. These volumes Claude named the Liber Veritatis. In 1635-36 he began the Liber Veritatis (Book of Truth; in the British Museum, London), a remarkable volume containing 195 drawings carefully copied by Claude after his own paintings, with particulars noted on the backs of the drawings indicating the patron for whom, or the place for which, the picture was destined, and, in the second half of the book, the date. He thus documented some two hundred pictures and more over almost fifty years.
In 1650 Claude moved to a neighbouring house in Via Paolina (today Via del Babuino), where he lived until his death. The artist never married, but adopted an orphan child, Agnese, in 1658. Sons of Claude’s brothers joined the household in 1662 (Jean, son of Denis Gellée) and around 1680 (Joseph, son of Melchior Gellée). In 1663 Claude, who suffered much from gout, fell seriously ill, his condition becoming so serious that he even drafted a last will, but he managed to recover. He was painting less after 1670, but works completed after that date include important pictures such as Coast View with Perseus and the Origin of Coral (1674), painted for the celebrated arts patron Camillo Massimo,[6] and Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia, Claude’s last painting, commissioned by Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna. The artist died in his house on 23 November 1682. He was originally buried in Trinita dei Monti, but his remains were moved in 1840 to San Luigi dei Francesi.
About 250 paintings were produced by Claude, out of a total of perhaps 300, and more than 1,000 drawings have survived. He also produced 44 etchings.
Claude’s drawings are as remarkable an achievement as his paintings. About half are studies from nature. Executed freely in chalk or pen and wash, they are much more spontaneous than his paintings or studio drawings and represent informal motifs – trees, ruins, waterfalls, parts of a riverbank, fields in sunlight – that Claude saw on his sketching expeditions in the Campagna. Many were executed in bound books, which have since been broken up. The studio drawings consist partly of preparatory designs for paintings – Claude prepared his work more carefully than any previous landscape artist – and partly of compositions created as ends in themselves.

Claude had only two students; nonetheless, his paintings influenced a number of Dutch painters who were in Rome during the late 1630’s and ’40’s, and, in a broad sense, his influence can be seen even in the work of certain English landscape painters of the 19th century.


  • Embarkation of St. Paula Romana at Ostia
  • Artist: Claude Lorrain
  • Completion Date: c.1638
  • Style: Classicism
  • Technique: oil
  • Material: canvas
  • Dimensions: 145 x 211 cm
  • Gallery: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain


  • Seaport at Sunset
  • Artist: Claude Lorrain
  • Completion Date: 1639
  • Style: Classicism
  • Genre: cityscape


Classicism is a specific genre of philosophy, expressing itself in literature, architecture, art, and music, which has Ancient Greek and Roman sources and an emphasis on society. It was particularly expressed in the Neoclassicism of the Age of Enlightenment. It could be described as formal balance, clarity, manliness, and vigour in art.
Classicism was a recurrent tendency in the Late Antique period. Until that time the identification with antiquity had been seen as a continuous history of Christendom from the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine I. Renaissance classicism introduced a host of elements into European culture, including the application of mathematics and empiricism into art, humanism, literary and depictive realism, and formalism. Importantly it also introduced Polytheism, or “paganism”, and the juxtaposition of ancient and modern.

The Renaissance also explicitly returned to architectural models and techniques associated with Greek and Roman antiquity, including the golden rectangle as a key proportion for buildings, the classical orders of columns, as well as a host of ornament and detail associated with Greek and Roman architecture. They also began reviving plastic arts such as bronze casting for sculpture, and used the classical naturalism as the foundation of drawing, painting and sculpture.

In the present day philosophy classicism is used as a term particularly in relation to Apollonian over Dionysian impulses in society and art; that is a preference for rationality, or at least rationally guided catharsis, over emotionalism.

  • Landscape with Merchants (early works)
  • Artist: Claude Lorrain
  • Completion Date: c.1630
  • Style: Classicism (French Baroque)
  • Genre: landscape
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 143.6 x 97.2 cm
  • Gallery: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA


How the artist responded to the theme of water

1. He achieved renown chiefly because of his skill in representing those conditions of nature which produce views of the sun, particularly on seawater and over rivers at dawn and evening.
2. One of the keys to dividing a landscape appears to be to have a view which goes a long way and then have things shown at different distances.
3. Sometimes the composition includes merely shepherds, but frequently it embodies a subject from classical mythology or sacred history. The light is clearer than in paintings of the early or late periods. Spacious and tranquil compositions are drenched in an even light. Claude was a catholic believer in God. He was doing his work only according to the Church rules.
4. He uses compositions with spacious areas receding from the foreground to infinity, which creates impression of depth. He adopted this structural formula of composition from his teachers, but he developed it to perfection.
5. Lorrain generally uses a method called Chiaroscuro, or the play of patterns of dark and light contrasts.
6. The real subject in his work is not the forms of nature or the activities of men, but the animating power of light in varied intensities, depending upon the time of the day, playing upon the material realm and transforming it into a peculiar mood impression. Light in the eyes of a believer is synonym of the God’s Love and the real substance in the God’s Universe.

Claude Lorrain perfected the creation of ideal landscapes, placed in a golden classical antiquity of harmonious architecture, weather, landscape and society.
The deep ultramarine tone of the water, the overall warmth of colour, and the more solid drawing of the figures bringing a greater feeling of corporeality, are characteristic of his work.
Harbour scenes occur frequently throughout Claude’s work. Usually depicted at sunset figures, busying themselves by loading and unloading ships or simply idling the day away in conversation, they usually represent the water theme and the play between the sun rays and the depth of the water tones.
He manages to capture atmosphere not by blurring the edges of each object depicted but by infinitesimal gradations of tone without losing the slightest detail. In all Claude’s mature landscapes there is a sense of infinite distance.

Infinity in his work is a special theme to be investigated and bonded together with the presence of water, sunshine and air. The artist is using the combination of them to suggest the Divinity of the Creation and God. Claude was born French and Catholic and he was a believer in God. My conclusion is that his work is dedicated to God’s creation and is admiration of God’s Perfection. Water, air and light as subjects in his work represent the stillness and infinity of God.

I like the way he achieves depth and the perfection of the light in his compositions. He makes light to be the main subject in his work. He uses colours and shapes in a very impressive classical manner to create perfect parallel reality better than the watcher can see and touch.
I would like to investigate how he develops his composition.

Successes and failures of the image:

1. Brilliance as a draftsman
2. Elegance in expression;
3. Investigating nature with the eye of an artist;
4. Classical in tone and theme – becoming one of the founders of classicism;

Failures? No failures. He became famous for his unnatural and completely finished paintings and drawings transforming nature to be idealistically beautiful and perfect.

Quotes: I couldn’t find. Claude was practically illiterate, making short notes in French and Italian but being very aware about the reality. That was normal in the Renaissance.

Alex Dodge

Born: Nov. 1977
Active Years: nowadays
Field: painting
Nationality: American
Art Movement: unknown
Genre: unknown

Alex Dodge (born Nov. 1977) is an American artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Dodge’s work is included in many important public collections, including The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY, The New York Public Library, NY, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. Alex Dodge is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.

Dodge’s work has often explored the relationship between technology and human experience in varying degrees of subtlety. In a series of works depicting underwater swimming pools he contrasts what he describes as a quantifiable or digital representation of reality in the form of the pixel-like tiled surface of the pool’s structure against the chaotic and seemingly immeasurable gestural reflections in the water’s surface above.
Much of Dodge’s work makes use of digital processes such as 3D modelling and computer generated imagery though often physically mediated through historical art making techniques and processes.

Dodge’s second solo show at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in 2008, which was reviewed in Art Forum, included paintings inspired by the video game Katamari Damacy created by artist and game designer Keita Takahashi.[18] Dodge and Takahashi would later become friends and work together on a project titled Souponuts.

Dodge began publishing his print editions in 2005 with Forth Estate, a fine art print publisher in Brooklyn, NY. His prints had an early success being acquired by many private collections and museums.

Dodge began an on going obsession with Japanese culture shortly after graduating from art school. Having travelled to Japan a number of times Dodge met Satoko Nakagawa, an accessories designer, in Tokyo in 2007. After a number of years of long distance relations Dodge and Nakagawa were married in Japan shortly after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Alex Dodge’s ‘Generative’ wearable tech concepts:
Shoes that generate electricity when you walk, a sleeping cap that transmits your dreams, a shirt that serves as a touch-sensitive input device; these aren’t actual products, but concept prototypes by artist Alex Dodge, going on display next week at Brooklyn’s Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.
Alex Dodge’s third solo show with the gallery extends the artist’s interest in the relationships between humanity, technology, art, and design by presenting a collection of concept prototypes developed in collaboration with Brooklyn-based tech start up Generative.

The unique prototypes developed by Dodge may range in their levels of functionality, but are presented here as art objects and design objects on equal standing. While a designer might focus on creating mass-manufacturable products, envisioning that they bring people one step closer to a utopian ideal, Dodge’s objects fetishize the technological imperative, or the inevitable hybridization of man and machine, as something worthy of appreciation in itself. This exhibition serves as a natural progression from Dodge’s more traditional artworks, which have typically been engaged in a dialog concerning technology and its means of altering human experience.

Everything appears as it is, infinite 2011

  • Everything appears as it is, infinite2011
    Edition of 30
    6 color UV screenprint with braille texture on 2 ply museum board
    20 x 32 inches
  • Published by Forth Estate


  • Everything Appears as it is, Infinite (palladium)
    Everything Appears as it is, Infinite (palladium)
  • 2011
    Edition of 20
    Palladium leaf on paper
    7 9/16 x 10 5/8 inches
  • Published by Forth Estate
    Functional Models of Self Realization (sammai-gumi) 4
  • 2014
    graphite and earth pigment on synthetic paper
    20 x 26 inches

In the wake of total happiness

  • In the wake of total happiness  2013
  •  Edition of 30
  •  6 color UV screenprint with braille texture on 2 ply museum board
    20 x 32 inches
  •  Published by Forth Estate

Eternity is without limits, and so it has no laws

  • Eternity is without limits, and so it has no laws 2012
  • Edition of 30 6 color UV screenprint with braille
  • texture on 2 ply museum board 20 x 32 inches



 1. Visual Art Encyclopaedia
 2. Wikipedia
 3. Classicism
 4. Claude's Biography, Context and Artworks
 5. Claude Lorrain - Web Gallery of Art
 6. Catholic Encyclopaedia (1913)/Claude de Lorrain
 - "Claude de Lorrain". Catholic Encyclopaedia. 
(It offers in-depth portrayals of historical and philosophical 
ideas, persons and events, from a Catholic perspective, 
including issues that divide Catholicism from Protestantism and 
other faith communities.)
 7. CLAUDE LORRAIN  - web gallery of art
 8. TATE - Claude Lorrain
 9. Alex Dodge
 10. LinkedIn - Alex Dodge
 11. Alex Dodge
 12. Everything Appears as it is, Infinite (palladium)
 13. Glossary
 14. SymbiosisO
 15. Newton
 16. ITP thesis Week
 17. Tech Concepts