Landscape with Mercury and Battus

This drawing is a preparatory study for a painting done in 1663 for an unknown collector from Antwerp, which is now in the duke of Devonshire’s estate at Chatsworth in England. The subject is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses (II: 685–697). The drawing is notable for its chromatic effects despite the fact that it is nearly monochrome. The surface was covered with dense layers of wash and black chalk, which were jointly reworked, then highlighted with white gouache to create a magical sense of twilight. The painting, in contrast, presents the scene in daylight.
Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain (1600 or 1604/05 – 1682)
1662 (?)
Pen and brown ink, brown and gray wash over sketch in black chalk, highlights in white gouache – H. 24.5 cm; W. 36.5 cm – Department of Prints and Drawings, Louvre, Paris, RF 4590 – Gift of the Friends of the Louvre in 1920
© RMN / Michèle Bellot