This sketch may depict the hills to the north of the road into Tivoli from Vicovaro, suggesting a kinship with the view Denis painted of the latter town (2003.42.22) that is underscored not only by its size but by its sensibility. Denis defines the recession of landscape elements—from the field in the foreground to the line of trees and the escarpment beyond—mostly in green tones, with contrasting pink in the sky.
The landscape depicted in this sketch resembles the view to the north of the road from Vicovaro as it reaches the outskirts of Tivoli, suggesting a kinship with Mountainous Landscape at Vicovaro (MMA 2003.42.22) that is underscored not only by its size but its sensibility. Denis seems to have selected this motif not only for the beauty of the scenery but to capture the fleeting effect of light as it helps to define the recession of landscape elements from the field in the foreground to the line of trees and the escarpment beyond, mostly in green tones, and the contrasting pink in the sky.
[Asher Ethan Miller 2013]
Inscription: Signed, inscribed, and numbered (in brown ink), verso : a Tivoly. Sn Denis. 83
[Jacques Fischer-Chantal Kiener, Paris, until late 1980s; sold to Whitney]; Wheelock Whitney III, New York (from late 1980s)
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830)," April 3–July 9, 2001, no. 85 (as "Collines à Tivoli," lent by Wheelock Whitney, New York).
Mantua. Palazzo Te. "Un paese incantato: Italia dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot," September 3–December 9, 2001, no. 85 (as "Colline a Tivoli," lent by Wheelock Whitney, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850," January 22–April 21, 2013, unnumbered cat. (fig. 21).
Anna Ottani Cavina. Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830). Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 2001, p. 132, no. 85, ill. (color) [Italian ed., "Un paese incantato," Paris, 2001, pp. 128, 132, no. 85, ill. (color)], states that the artist is documented to have visited Tivoli in 1789 and 1793; dates this sketch to the final decade of the eighteenth century.
Valentina Branchini. "Simon Denis (1755–1813) in Italia: Dipinti e Disegni di Paesaggio." PhD diss., Università di Bologna, 2002–3, pp. 18–19, 118, 122, no. 54, ill., calls it "Colline a Tivoli".
Papiers d'Italie, 1780–1850. Exh. cat., Galerie René-François Teissèdre, Paris Galerie René-François Teissèdre. Paris, 2003, unpaginated, ill. (color).
Geneviève Lacambre. "Two Series of Studies in Oil on Paper Numbered by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes and Simon Denis." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, pp. 74, 82, no. 83, calls it "Hills in Tivoli" and deduces that the number 83 on the verso situates it within the range of works similarly inscribed 78 through 127, whose primary motif is the earth with its vegetation.
Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), pp. 17, 45, fig. 21 (color).