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Sébastien Bourdon

Landscape with Classical Ruins


Sébastien Bourdon
Montpellier 1616 – Paris 1671


Landscape with Classical Ruins


About 1635


Oil on canvas


50.2 x 64.5 cm


Purchase, John W. Tempest Fund, inv. 1953.1083


Western Art

Bourdon arrived in Rome in 1634 where he responded to a wide range of artists. He produced low-life genre paintings popularized by the Bamboccianti, a group of primarily Dutch painters à la mode. In 1637, denounced as being a Protestant, he returned to Paris. For all its geometric clarity, articulated through the elements of classical architecture, this painting retains a sense of a natural landscape. The subject is an odd assemblage—gypsies, beggars, dog, soldier, lovers, a family, a gentleman — all gathered by a country tavern and fountain, surrounded by ruins. The poetic late afternoon light envelops the entirety of the scene, conveying a sense of pause. Various sources of inspiration are evident in this work such as the Bamboccianti (the young man placing his hand on the breast of the woman seated next to him), Claude’s atmospheric lighting of landscapes and Poussin’s classicism. Yet the subject is not totally fantastic and picturesque. During the Thirty Years War, which torn Europe, large movements of civilian populations were driven from their homes, accompanying the progressions of armies and becoming a prominent aspect of military and economic life.

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