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Record Image
Lorrain, Claude (French, b.1600, d.1682)
Landscape with Hagar and the Angel
1654
oil on canvas
545 x 765 mm sight size; 810 x 1030 mm frame size
120-1982
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1982 by Mary, Dora and Esmond de Beer through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
Claude Lorrain is an outstanding exponent of European landscape painting, a subject that later became important in New Zealand art. It may seem curious to a modern audience but landscape was not a special subject of European painters until the time of Claude and his contemporary Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665). This work includes a scene from Chapter 16 of Genesis – the encounter between an angel and Hagar, maid to Abraham’s wife Sarah. Hagar bore a child by her mistress’ husband and fled into the desert where an angel appeared. But the setting here is not a desert and the space given to the encounter is small. The true subject is the landscape.
The foreground is cool, rich and detailed. The middle ground shows a palace on an island bathed in light; above and beyond the sky is tinted by the glow of a setting sun. This is no particular place but a very lovely, imagined countryside, which is what the contemporary audience admired. A painting of Claude’s maturity, this is a fine work by a major artist. Its relationship to New Zealand art makes its presence here not only remarkable but highly felicitous.

on view in the exhibition

Hurahia ana kā Whetū : Unveiling the Stars
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