The Grotto of Posillipo is a nearly half-mile-long tunnel that was cut through the rocky promontory separating Naples from the town of Posillipo in the first century. It became an icon of the Grand Tour in the eighteenth century. Rémond visited the site in 1822, making a dated plein-air drawing (École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris) and an oil sketch (Musée Bonnat, Bayonne) there, both with the same composition. They served as the basis for a lithograph of 1828 that was included in the suite Souvenirs de Naples dessinés d’après nature, published in 1831 (see Vincent Pomarède in Pierre Rosenberg, ed., La donation Jacques Petithory au musée Bonnat, Bayonne: Objets d’art, sculptures, peintures, dessins, exh. cat., Musée de Luxembourg, Paris, 1997, pp. 130–32, no. 141).
This sketch is painted more broadly than the one in Bayonne, but it is more difficult to date. It may have been painted as early as 1822 and was undoubtedly completed before February 1842, when Rémond included it among the 268 oil studies he put up for auction (see Provenance and Notes), which testifies to an interest in such informal works among collectors. Later that year Rémond returned to Italy.
[2013; based on research undertaken in conjunction with Miller 2013]