His painting specialty of scenes in imaginary harbors is original and appealing and opens the way to imitations. From 1634 he copies his paintings in drawings that constitute his Liber Veritatis and allow him until his death in 1682 to authenticate his artworks. To better simulate the originals, he makes an extensive use of the wash in these drawings.
Throughout his life Claude draws for his own pleasure. Very few from his 1,200 drawings are for his business. From 1640 to 1642 he begins to use his wash technique in original views of the Roman countryside. The sketches made outdoors with great topographic accuracy are completed or copied by the artist in his studio.
In his passion Claude varies his practice, using colored papers or preparing white papers with a light colored wash layer. He enhances or not with white and highlights or not the contours with a line of pen or brush. The choice of the angle of view, the balance of the composition and the beautiful contrasts confirm that he is a great artist of the real landscape.
A 23 x 30 cm view of an unidentified woodland landscape uses all the variations of that technique. It was sold for 6.1M including premium by Christie's on January 31, 2013 over a lower estimate of $ 500K.
A 16 x 27 cm panoramic view in the Roman countryside is an example of the use of wash to create the atmosphere without adding lines or enhancements. It was sold for £ 410K including premium by Sotheby's on July 5, 2016 over a lower estimate of £ 150K.
On January 31 in New York, Sotheby's sells a 23 x 35 cm view of the Aniene valley between Tivoli and Subiaco with the ruins of an aqueduct, lot 2 estimated $ 600K. The soft contrasts well delineated in brown ink over a pale pink wash highlight stone and valley. The balance of the composition is completed by flocks of birds in flight and by two small clouds of nice weather.
This drawing is signed Claudio Gellée on back side and marked IV for In Urbe, meaning that it was made in studio in Rome. The title locates a site that remains perfectly recognizable today. It is not dated but a view preserved by the British Museum which was taken on the same road with similar hues is dated 1642.
SOLD for $ 1.63M including premium