Claude Lorrain’s light-infused landscapes had a huge influence on open-air painters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. French by birth, he spent most of his life in Italy, routinely painting and drawing in the countryside around Rome. To help him ‘penetrate’ nature, he would lie in the fields ‘before the break of day and until night in order to learn to represent very exactly the red morning sky, sunrise and sunset’.
This view of Lake Albano overlooked by Castel Gandolfo was clearly painted in the studio, but is infused with effects of soft, hazy light and colour that Claude would have recorded at first-hand. Like him, the painters in this exhibition kept their open-air sketches as reference material to help them inject a degree of naturalism into their finished painting: their studies became repositories of observation, memory and feeling.