Storia dell’Arte 112, Settembre – Dicembre 2005
Cardinal Camillo Massimo and Claude Lorrain: Landscape and the Construction of Identity in Seicento Rome
Camillo Massimo was one of Claude Lorrain’s most important patrons, with five drawings in the Liber Veritatis recording his ownership of paintings by the French artist. None had a religious subject. Three illustrated Ovid’s Metamorphoses: the Landscape with Argus Guarding Io, the Coast View with Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl and the Coast View with Perseus and the Origin of Coral. One, the View of Delphi with a Procession was based on a passage in Justinus. In this paper I will argue that the key to understanding these paintings is Massimo’s passion for antiquity. He was at the forefront of the rediscovery and documentation of ancient Roman wall paintings in the second half of the century, and his collection included several ancient Roman landscapes.6 It appears he went to some lengths to excavate these ancient paintings and take them back to his palace, and the attraction of contemporary landscape painting for him was that it was directly linked to this ancient precedent. Scholars have speculated about Claude’s exposure to ancient landscape painting but it was through Camillo Massimo that he had access to actual works.