Early studies, early compositions

The 1630s were a period of intense study of nature by Claude, as witnessed by an impressive number of drawings done on the spot. He developed a wide range of techniques and expressive styles to record the various aspect of nature, ranging from simple ink sketches to elaborate drawings with washes that were sometimes delicate, sometimes bold and spirited. Claude paid particular attention to effects of light, but also broadened his repertoire by drawing cattle and experimenting with etching techniques. During this same period one of his favorite religious subjects, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, appeared for the first time.
Around 1635 Claude’s career took off when he was invited to participate in a major project commissioned by the king of Spain. Shortly afterward, Pope Urban VIII commissioned him to paint several landscapes, including a Village Dance. A sketch for this composition is exhibited here, along with a later replica owned by the Louvre.