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Le Berger Galant (A Pastoral Landscape)

CAT 131 Claude Berger Galant Bart Chapin jpg.jpg

CAT 132. Feradiny after Caude Lorrain. Le Berger Galant (A Pastoral Landscape). Peint par Claude Lorrain de meme grandeur. Paris: Mondhard, rue St. Jacques a S. Jacques. Eighteenth Century. E. Barton Chapin Jr. Family Collection.

Here is the classical, Arcadian, Claudean landscape, without the mythical or biblical allusions often added to its title or its pictorial expanse. That does not mean Claude is making no allusions to previous mental constructs. The painting reproduced in this engraving (fig. 1 below) is often seen as one of Claude’s purest responses to the Arcadian tradition epitomized by the Eclogues composed by the Latin poet Virgil several decades before the birth of Christ. Here we have a shepherd teaching a shepherdess how to play a flute (or “pipe”) in a harmonious, expansive landscape in which their grazing goats and cattle lead the eye to placid pool fed by a stream quickly descending from under a high rustic bridge at the far right over which horses and rider are passing. High above the rustic bridge is a mighty castle presiding over the valley and town in the middle ground of the painting extending to the mountains behind. The 1645 date of Claude's original painting resembles that of Claude’s Landscape with Cephalus and Procris Reunited by Diana that Melville would have seen for the first time at London’s National Gallery in 1849 (CAT 129, figure 1).

CAT 131 fig 1 claude a pastoral landscape the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.jpg

Figure 1. Claude Lorrain. A Pastoral Landscape, oil on canvas, 1645. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham University, Birmingham UK.

In Claude’s pastoral scenes such as this from 1640s, as Roethlisberger points out, “motifs such as the ruins, the mills, and the goats, more typical of Claude’s early years, are replaced by a heroic castle and cows.” This particular scene is bathed “in morning light; the low sun hidden on the left” (Paintings, LV 93, p. 253). In Melville’s engraving, the warmth and light of the morning sun are strongly felt on the steep cliff on the far side of the pond and on slender trunks of the young intertwined trees near the cattle on the right, perhaps symbolizing a budding romance between the shepherd and shepherdess on the left. The shepherdess learning to play the rustic flute in this print would have reminded Melville of Claude’s depiction of the Shepherd playing on his pipe in the celebrated landscape he saw in the collection of Samuel Rogers in 1849 (CAT 123, fig.2). That similarity would have been heightened for Melville by the title of the 1645 painting in his book by Dullea: Landscape: Shepherd teaching Shepherdess to Pipe (LV 93). Dullea in 1887 located the painting in private collection of William Lloyd with whose family it was to remain until acquired by the Barber Institute of Birmingham University in 1954.

Claude’s 1645 Pastoral Landscape was in the in the collection of Thomas Walker in England before it was engraved by François Vivares in 1741. Jean François Feradiny, who engraved the print Melville acquired, entitled Le Berger Galant, was born in France in 1724. Feradiny specialized in landscapes by Claude Lorrain and marine scenes by Claude-Joseph Vernet. In the eighteenth century when Feradiny published this print in Paris, paintings by Claude were more popular in England than in France. His “berger galant” is the shepherd who is teaching the shepherdess to pipe. Feradiny, like Claude, depicts the shepherd, the shepherdess, and the pipe very clearly. Langdon in 1989 reproduced the original painting as “one of the loveliest” of Claude’s “pure pastorals,” one which “perfectly conveys the mood of Virgil’s Eclogues where the shepherd’s piping suggests the harmony between man and nature, the animals adding a sense of richness” (8).

Feradiny published Le Berger Galant in Paris during a transitional period in the history of printmaking. Between 1741, when Vivares published his engraving after Claude’s 1645 Pastoral Landscape, and 1782, when Woollett published the engraving of The Enchanted Castle that Vivares had begun (CAT 128), English engravers were overtaking their French counterparts in the creation of classical landscapes and those of Claude in particular. Manwaring considers Vivares and his student Woollett to be primarily responsible for “the shift which, by 1788, made the value of British prints exported to France greater than that of French prints exported into Britain” (80-81). Melville, the son of an exporter himself, had a fine example of how engravers of those two nations were interpreting Claude during that transitional period in his copies of Le Berger Galant and The Enchanted Castle. His collection, for someone of limited means, was particularly strong in those members of “the British school of landscape engraving” whose work was “both the result and in turn the cause of admiration for the Italianate mode of landscape” (Manwaring 79).

Apart from its obvious pictorial and historical value, Le Berger Galant is likely to have had some personal associations for Melville. At the lower left margin, beneath the shepherd and shepherdess, he wrote the name “Claude” in blue pencil. Was that the same blue pencil with which he marked the passage in Hazlitt’s essay “On the Ignorance of the Learned” about the person who “might have Claude’s Enchanted Castle . . . hanging on the walls of his room for months without his once perceiving [it]?” (Table Talk, 1:50). Melville’s copy of Le Berger Galant is unusually worn; it is creased in the middle where it appears to have been folded over for a long time. Is this possibly an engraving that Herman’s father Allan would have brought back from his visit to France in 1802, a pastoral counterpart to the engraved seascapes than hung in Redburn’s father’s home? (NN R 6)

One thing we can say for sure. Melville would have associated the shepherd who is teaching his shepherdess to pipe in his print of Le Berger Galant with the shepherd who was piping to his flock in the celebrated Claudean landscape he had seen during his two visits to the private gallery of Samuel Rogers in 1849 (CAT 123, fig. 2). And he would have associated each of those piping shepherds with piping herdsman in the engraving of The Herdsman in his copy of The Works of Eminent Masters (CAT 123, fig. 1). In Melville’s copy of Dullea’s Claude Gellée Le Lorrain, the painting from Rogers’s collection is called Landscape: The Piping Herdsman (LV 11). The original painting from which Feradiny engraved Le Berger Galant is called Landscape: Shepherd teaching Shepherdess to Pipe (LV 93).

Such images as the above inform the passage in Melville’s “At the Hostelry” in which Claude appears with his Dutch colleague Herman Swanevelt. When Swanevelt declares that for a picturesque landscape “any tranquil thing” will do, “a crumbling tower, a shepherd piping,” Claude said not “whate’er he felt, / Yet friendly nodded to Swanevelt” (NN BBO 184). Swanewelt, a Dutch painter who boarded with Claude for a considerable time, painted subjects similar to those of Claude but without the same magic. The two prints Melville collected after paintings by Swanewelt are cataloged in chapter 4 (CAT 209 and 210).

Melville’s copy of Feradiny’s engraving of Le Berger Galant offers yet another example of the “deep affinity” between the Claude’s landscapes and those of Domenichino. Roethlisberger makes that connection in his brief discussion of Claude’s Liber Veritatis drawing of the 1645 Pastoral Landscape (LV 93), which is a “record done from the painting.” This is one “composition” which Roethlisberger acknowledges is “close to Domenichino in spirit” (Drawings, no. 596, p. 236). Young Melville probably felt some of that affinity when Samuel Rogers first introduced him to Claude’s Landscape: the Mill; a Shepherd playing in his pipe in the company of the Domenichino landscapes, including Landscape; “Tobin and the Fish” (CAT 123, fig. 2, and fig. 1, before CAT 130).