Claude Lorrain, Ascanius shooting the Stag of Sylvia, 1682
Source: Wikimedia Commons
I was curious to compare the two figures of Ascanius directly and so had a play on Photoshop, as you can see below. It would seem facile to say this shows Claude could have painted more naturalistic figures if he'd wanted to, but the point is worthwhile because contemporaries criticised this aspect of his painting and Claude himself reportedly joked that when he sold his landscapes he threw the figures in for nothing. Of course the figures in Ascanius shooting the Stag of Sylvia can't be seen in isolation (or cut out from their setting); the painting's harmonius colours and soaring forms combine to convey a legendary time and place, dreamed from the poetry of Virgil. Goethe summed up the nature of landscapes like this in 1829, when he said that Claude's paintings 'possess the highest truth, but no trace of reality.'