The French landscape painter and etcher Claude Gellée was born around the year 1600 in Chamagne. He was called Claude Lorrain after his home in Lothringen/Lorraine. After a longer stay in Freiburg in Breisgau, he went to Rome as a pastry chef.
Here in 1612, Claude became an attendant and assistant for the decorative and landscape painter Agostino Tassi (1580–1644). Among other things, he was Tassi’s assistant at the Villa Lante of Cardinal Montalto (1571–1623) in Bagnaia near Viterbo, in which they were responsible for decorative work.
In 1625, Claude Lorrain was briefly in France. He worked as an assistant to Claude Deruet (1588–1660) on the frescoes at the Carmelite church in Nancy.
Afterwards, Claude Lorrain left to live in Rome permanently. In the Palazzo Crescenzi (1630) at the Pantheon, in the Palazzo Muti at S. Apostoli and in his own house near Sanctissima Trinità dei Monti, Claude Lorrain’s fresco decorations were produced. Afterwards he only created paintings at his easel. From 1634 to 1655, the painter Giovanni Domenico Desiderii was an attendant, assistant and cohabitant of Lorrain’s.
In addition, beginning in 1634 he was listed in the records of the Accademia S. Luca. Beginning in 1635, the artist documented his commissions in written form: in total, Claude Lorrain found himself in good demand. The popes Urban VIII (pope from 1623–44), Alexander VII (pope from 1655–67) and Clemens IX (pope from 1667–69) as well as different cardinals, the King of Spain, the French Embassy in Rome, and a series of French, German and Italian collectors and amateurs ordered paintings from Claude Lorrain.
On commission from Philipp IV of Spain (1605–65), at least seven landscape paintings were created for his palace. Beginning in 1643, the artist was a member of the Congregazione Virtuosi, and from 1654 on, he held various posts in the academy. Next to his paintings, a large number of drawings from nature and some etchings were also produced.
Claude Lorrain died in Rome on November 23, 1682. He was interred there in the Santissima Trinità dei Monti Church and in 1840, he was moved to the National Church of the French, S. Luigi dei Francesi.