Denis painted the majority of his informal nature studies out of doors. Notations on the back of this example, however, indicate that he based it on a drawing that he had previously made in the countryside near Rome while observing the phenomenon of passing rain accompanied by a rainbow. The horses and rider fleeing the storm are a motif borrowed from the seventeenth-century painter Nicolas Poussin.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed (verso): L'Arc en Ciel, visible ou le soleil eclaire [The Rainbow, visible where the sun shines,] / e traversé par la pluie ou l'ombre commence [and crossed by the rain where the shadow begins] / peint après l'etude du dessein fait pres de Rome [painted after the drawing made near Rome] / 46 Sn Denis
private collection, New York; [W. M. Brady & Co., New York, in 1996]; Eugene V. Thaw, New York (by 2001–9)
New York. W. M. Brady & Co. "Drawings & Pictures 1790–1890: Recent Acquisitions," spring 1996, no. 2 (as "Landscape near Rome During a Storm").
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830)," April 3–July 9, 2001, no. 82 (as "Orage sur la campagne romaine").
Mantua. Palazzo Te. "Un paese incantato: Italia dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot," September 3–December 9, 2001, no. 82 (as "Temporale sulla campagna romana").
New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "The Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994," September 27, 2002–January 19, 2003, no. 74 (as "Landscape near Rome During a Storm").
South Hadley, Mass. Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. "Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting," September 7–December 12, 2004, unnumbered cat.
New York. Morgan Library & Museum. "Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection," January 23–August 30, 2009, unnum. checklist (as "Landscape near Rome During a Storm").
Mark Brady. Drawings & Pictures 1790–1890: Recent Acquisitions. Exh. cat., W. M. Brady & Co. New York, 1996, unpaginated, no. 2, ill. (color), dates it to the artist's Roman period, between 1785 and 1801–6.
Philip Conisbee. "La peinture de plein air avant Corot." Corot, un artiste et son temps. Ed. Chiara Stefani, Vincent Pomarède, and Gérard de Wallens. Paris, 1998, pp. 361, 364 n. 27, p. 371 (fig. 10), notes that the inscription on the verso indicates that, contrary to advice Denis offered to Granet, this work was not painted directly from nature, adding that the motif of the surprised horseman is drawn from sources at least as early as the time of Poussin.
Anna Ottani Cavina. Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830). Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 2001, pp. 128–29, no. 82, ill. (color).
Cara Dufour Denison inThe Thaw Collection: Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, Acquisitions Since 1994. Exh. cat., Pierpont Morgan Library. New York, 2002, pp. 164–65, no. 74, ill. (color), notes that, according to the inscription on the verso, the sketch is based on an earlier drawing.
Valentina Branchini. "Simon Denis (1755–1813) in Italia: Dipinti e Disegni di Paesaggio." PhD diss., Università di Bologna, 2002–3, pp. 16, 27, 118, 121–22, no. 51, ill., calls it "Temporale sulla campagna romana"; compares the inscription on the verso to one on a drawing by Denis (sale, Sotheby's, Monaco, June 18–19, 1992, part of no. 183, ill.).
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. 74–75, 81, no. 46, figs. 57, 57 verso, and ill. p. 64 (color, overall and detail), calls it "Landscape near Rome During a Storm" and deduces that the number 46 on the verso situates it within the range of works similarly inscribed 38 through 74, whose primary motif is the sky.
Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 116, no. 43, ill. (color), calls it "Landscape near Rome During a Storm".