Plein-air oil sketches by Bertin are scarce. This example may have been painted on his first trip to southern Italy, in 1821. He was well along in his study of landscape painting when, in 1823, he began to frequent the atelier of Jean Victor Bertin (no relation). There he first encountered Camille Corot and Théodore Caruelle d'Aligny, with whom he would be associated by Salon critics throughout his career.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): E. Bertin.
private collection, France (until 1985; sold on October 31 to Cailleux); [Galerie Cailleux, Paris, 1985–86; sold to MMA]
Paris. Galerie Cailleux. "Artistes en voyage au XVIIIe siècle," May 20–July 5, 1986, no. 7 (as "Étude de grottes et de rochers").
Geneva. Galerie Cailleux. "Artistes en voyage au XVIIIe siècle," October–November 1986, no. 7.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes by French Artists, 1780–1880," November 17, 1987–February 14, 1988, no catalogue.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting," May 26–September 2, 1996, no. 80.
Brooklyn Museum. "In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting," October 11, 1996–January 12, 1997, no. 80.
Saint Louis Art Museum. "In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting," February 21–May 18, 1997, no. 80.
Philip Conisbee. "London and Paris: French Artists at Home and Abroad." Burlington Magazine 128 (July 1986), p. 533, fig. 81.
Marianne Roland Michel. Artistes en voyage au XVIIIe siècle. Exh. cat., Galerie Cailleux, Paris. 1986, unpaginated, no. 7, ill., compares its direct observation of nature to the landscapes of the Barbizon painters.
Jacob Bean inRecent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1986–1987. New York, 1987, pp. 44–45, ill. (color), as "Rocks and Foliage"; notes that Bertin's oil paintings are rare "and as far as we know, this signed oil sketch on paper is unique".
Peter Galassi. Corot in Italy: Open-Air Painting and the Classical-Landscape Tradition. New Haven, 1991, p. 107, colorpl. 122, dates it 1821–29; discusses the transformation of the ravine at Sorrento "from a natural wonder into an artistic motif," reproducing similar paintings by Heinrich Reinhold (1823; Kunsthalle Hamburg) and an unidentified artist, perhaps Michallon (early 1820s; private collection, Paris).
Jeremy Strick inIn the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1996, p. 211, no. 80, ill. (color), dates it to the early 1820s.
Sarah Faunce inIn the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1996, p. 201.
Xavier Bray inA Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 1999, p. 30, fig. 16 (color), dates it to the early 1820s.
Élisabeth Décultot. "Rome 1820. Les nazaréens et le paysage." Studiolo 2 (2003), pp. 50, 58 n. 44, fig. 13.