Landscape with Apollo and the Muses

This monumental depiction of Mount Parnassus (or Mount Helicon) heralds Claude’s “grand style.” It was done for Cardinal Camillo Astalli-Pamphili, a young cleric elevated to the rank of cardinal-nephew in September 1650 by Pope Innocent X. The painting is not an illustration of an ancient or modern text, but a reconstitution of a mythical world, a scholarly evocation of the Boeotia of Greek poets bearing the features of the countryside around Rome, represented by the outline of Monte Soratte on the horizon. The large painting is a flattering homage to the patron, for Claude compares the role of patron of the art to that of Apollo himself, and there are obvious allusions in the group of Apollo and the Muses to Raphael’s fresco in the Stanza della Segnatura.
Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain (1600 or 1604/05 – 1682)
Oil on canvas – H. 186 cm; W. 290 cm – National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, inv. NG 2240 – Acquired by the museum in 1960
© National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh