This highly finished drawing dated 1673 is related to a painting of the same subject in the Fairhaven Collection at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridge (fig. 1). The canvas was commissioned by Don Gasparo Altieri (1646-1720), an important Roman patron who married into one of the oldest families in Rome and whose identity was closely linked to the story of Aeneas, the mythological founder of Rome. The painting and its pendant are among the most important and beautiful of Claude's late works. After leaving the Altieri collection in 1799 they were acquried by the great English collector and builder of Fonthill Abbey, William Thomas Beckford (1760-1844) for 6,500 gns.. In 1808 Richard Hart Davis, M.P. (1766-1842) acquired the paintings for 12,000 gns., at the time the most expensive amount ever paid for paintings on canvas. They were later in the collection of Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902-1942) whose widow, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent (1906-1968) sold them at Christie's, 14 March 1947 (lots 28 and 29).
The drawing is preparatory, perhaps even the modello for the painting, and one of thirteen drawings related to it, an indication of the commission's importance and the composition's complexity. The drawing is intricate in both its subject and technique and the commission's significance is further demonstrated by the variety of these works - figurative, compositional, preparatory and ricordi.
The painting was completed in 1675 as a pendant to Landscape with the Father of Psyche Sacrificing to Apollo which had been executed in 1662 for Gasparo's father, Angelo Paluzzi degli Albertoni, marquess of Rosina (1623-1698). In 1667 Gasparo married the niece of Cardinal Emilio Altieri (1590-1676) who became Pope Clement X in 1670. As a result, Gasparo as well as his father assumed the Altieri name and emphasized the family's connection to the myth of Aeneas, traditionally considered the founder of Rome. The early 1670s seem to be a period of exaltation of the Altieri family: in addition to Gasparo's commission of Claude's painting, the 1671 beatification of Ludovica Albertoni was commemorated in a tomb by Gian Lorenzo Bernini who completed it between 1674-75.
Gasparo seems to have been deeply involved in the development of the painting which is believed to have been commissioned from Claude as early as 1670. Altieri might have even suggested the subject as the inscription on the verso of the present drawing suggests.
Claude was familiar with The Aeneid which Virgil wrote in the first century B.C.. In the last decade of his career Claude depicted scenes from the Aeneid in six paintings. For The arrival of Aeneas at the site of Rome he used a popular Italian translation by Annibale Caro (M. Kitson, 'The 'Altieri Claudes' and Virgil', Burlington Magazine, 102, no. 688, July 1960, p. 312). The subject of the painting and drawing is from Book VIII, verses 88-126. It describes the Mediterranean voyage of the Trojan Aeneas along the Tiber river. Upon his arrival at Latium he is initially greeted warmly by the Latins who then turn on Aeneas and his fleet. Aeneas and his troops then seek refuge upstream at Pallanteum. When he arrives he holds out an olive branch as a sign of peace to King Evander and his son, Pallas with whom he then forms an alliance.
Virgil wrote (trans. John Dryden, 1697):
But when they saw the ships that stemmed the flood,
And glittered through the covert of the wood,
They rose with fear and left the unfinished feast,
Till dauntless Pallas reassured the rest
To pay the rites. Himself without delay
A javelin seized, and singly took his way;
Then gained a rising ground, and called from far:
'Resolve me, strangers, whence and what you are;
Your business here; and bring you peace or war?'
High on the stern Aeneas took his stand,
And held a branch of olive in his hand [...]
Twelve other drawings are related to the painting (M. Roethlisberger, Claude Lorrain: The drawings, Berkeley, 1968, nos. 1062r, 1075, 1077-86). They vary from quick, loose preliminary sketches; compact figure studies; fully developed compositional studies; and drawings made for the Liber Veritatis and others after the painting. Despite bearing a date of 1675, a loosely drawn study of the shoreline now at the Courtauld Institute, London (D.1978.PG.215; Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1079) is considered an early study related to the painting, as is a quick pen and ink sketch in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem (Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1062r). Two drawings at the British Museum depict the meeting of Aeneas and his troops and Evander, Pallas and their retinue, though one (Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1075) is a more cursory composition than the other (Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1078). A drawing dated 1673 which Roethlisberger believes is a view of the Aventine done in situ seems to have been the real life basis for the idealized landscape in the finished composition (Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1082).
In addition to the present drawing, there are seven fully developed compositional drawings - four made preceding the painting and three made after it. The ones made before the painting show just how fully realized the composition was at that stage, and yet Claude was still working out details such as the exact angle of the boat as it approaches the coastline, the architecture of the palace in the hills in the left background, and the density of the leaves of the trees in the foreground. A drawing in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm and another at the Morgan Library (both dated 1672-73) crop the foreground thereby placing greater emphasis on Aeneas's arrival, his waving of the olive branch and the two boats that carry him him and his troops (Roethlisberger, 1968, nos. 1078, 1077). Two other drawings also in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm datable to 1673, one a replica of the other and in poor condition, extend the foreground landscape and animate it with a shepherd and his flock, and reduce the size of the boats which are moved further in the background (Roethlisberger, 1968, nos. 1080, 1081).
Three drawings were made as ricordi after the completion of the painting. The first, for the Liber Veritatis is signed and dated 25 March 1675 (fig. 2) (Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1084). It is the last drawing in the album Claude assembled as a record of his paintings. A 1675 drawing in the Uffizi is closest in composition to the painting. Another drawing at Windsor dated 1677 was done perhaps after the Uffizi drawing rather than the painting (Roethlisberger, 1968, no. 1086).
The present work was not known to Roethlisberger when he published his two-volume catalogue raisonné on Claude's drawings in 1968. He first published the drawing in The Burlington Magazine in 1979 where he hypothesized that it was made after the painting, perhaps upon the request of another patron (Roethlisberger, 1979 op. cit.). Laura Giles in her unpublished qualifying paper suggests that the drawing was preparatory and could have even been the modello submitted to Altieri for his approval (Giles, op. cit., p. 23). Giles hypothesis is very plausible and it provides an explanation for the important differences between this finished drawing and the painting. While highly finished like the Liber Veritatis, Uffizi and Windsor drawings, it differs significantly in its composition and therefore its interpretation. In the present drawing the landscape dominates the narrative. With its emphasis on the lush landscape, and the relegation of the main narrative element - Aeneas's arrival - to the background, one can see how Altieri might have requested that the focus be on the defining moment of the narrative - that is Rome's founding - and by extension his family's importance. It was perhaps then on the behest of Altieri that Claude changed the composition, reducing the size of the monumental tree and increasing the size and prominence of the boat by moving it into the foreground (see Giles, op. cit., pp. 21-24). The present drawing and the two Stockholm drawings are consistent with the artist's working methods of creating a highly finished drawing either as a presentation drawing or a working drawing for his reference well before the painting was executed.
Yet the drawing is entirely successful as a composition and is especially beautiful because of its emphasis on the landscape with the meandering hills unfurling towards the shoreline, densely foliaged trees and a receding forest that ends with a hazy view of a castle on a hill. The foreground, devoid of figures except for a solitary faun evokes the unspoiled land and sense of discovery of Aeneas's journey. It is a poetic evocation of the narrative, rather than a didactically literal one. The drawing is more radical as a narrative composition, but consistent with Claude's endless fascination with observed and idealized landscapes.
This drawing is first recorded in the collection of Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918), a writer and historian whose grandfather and great-grandfather, John Quincy Adams and John Adams respectively, were U.S. presidents. It is not known where Adams acquired the drawing or even if his ancestors acquired it before him, and it could be the earliest example of a drawing by Claude in an American collection. Henry did travel extensively in Europe beginning in 1858, and again in 1861 where he served for seven years as his father, Charles Francis Adams, Sr.'s private secretary while he was ambassador to Great Britain. His niece, Abigail Adams Homans (1879-1974) who later inherited the drawing, wrote about Henry and Brooks Adams in her memoir, Education by Uncles (1966). In the book she describes Henry's house in Washington, D.C. which was filled with bookcases '....and above were some of his collection of pictures, which were scattered everywhere all over the house. In his study were many drawings...'