Two Palaces with St. Alexis

This scene resembles a theater set. The porch and Tuscan columns of a large classical building occupy the foreground while a Renaissance-style palace overlooks the port in the background. The incident is taken from the life of Saint Alexis, a Roman noble who lived in the 4th century, and whose cult enjoyed a certain popularity in the 17th century. The day of his wedding, Alexis left his bride and went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in order to live among the poor. On returning to Rome he lived as a beggar for seventeen years underneath the steps of his parents’ home, without being recognized. It was only on his death that an angel revealed his identity to Pope Innocent I. A church on the Aventine Hill, on the site of his parents’ palace, was dedicated to Saint Alexis. Converging lines ruled in black chalk to establish the central perspective are still visible in the upper part of the drawing.
Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain (1600 or 1604/05 – 1682)
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, highlighted with white gouache, blue watercolor – H. 24.7 cm; W. 39.6 cm – Teylers Museum, Haarlem , inv. L 66 – Acquired by the Teyler Foundation in 1790
© Haarlem, Teylers Museum