Port Scene with Villa Medici by Claude Lorrain was painted in 1637 for a cardinal of the Medici family, as we are informed by the Liber Veritatis, the painting refers to the client by the family coats of arms above the clock and on the ships, and above all by the presence of Villa Medici in the background, located by the artist's fantasy on the seashore and not at its real site on the Pincio hill in Rome. It is thought that the client was Cardinal Giancarlo, appointed in those years to the Generalship of the Mediterranean Sea and responsible for ships flying the flag of the Knights of St. Stephen, an order founded in 1562 by Grand Duke Cosimo de' Medici of Tuscany to combat heretics in the Mediterranean.
Villa Medici owes its name to Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, who had acquired and enlarged the existing building in 1576, embellishing it with a precious collection of pictures and ancient sculptures. These included the 1st-century BC statue that came to be known as the Medici Venus, which can be seen in the painting, the Knife Grinder, the Wrestlers and almost all the bas-reliefs on the central section of the facade. The antique sculptures were later transferred to Florence, and over the centuries the villa went through periods of neglect, until Napoleon made it the seat of the Academie de France, an institution that still houses students of various disciplines who have won a scholarship to study in Rome.
The downward slope of the buildings, the vessels lit from behind, arranged like wings in a theater, and the immensity of the sky bestow on the landscape painting that ample sense of space typical of Lorrain,while our gaze is attracted by the sun in the distance, reflected in a corridor of water on the horizon.
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