François-Marius Granet began his artistic education at an early age, entering the studio of an unknown landscape painter in Aix. He enrolled at the towns' free drawing academy in 1771, where he came under the guidance of Jean-Antoine Constantin. In the same year he met Comte Auguste de Forbin, an aristocrat two years his junior, who became a lifelong friend and patron. Supported by Forbin's mother, the two men journeyed to Paris (circa 1794) and then to Rome in 1802; although this trip only lasted a few months Granet and Forbin returned to Rome in 1803, and visited Southern Italy off and on until 1824 when Granet returned permanently to France. The strength of his reputation in Paris grew; his work at the Salon was acclaimed by the critics, and patrons vied for his work. In 1826 Forbin, now the director of the royal museum, appointed him a curator of the Louvre, and four years later King Louis-Philippe installed him in the Institut of France, charged with organizing a museum of French history at Versailles.
Although his corpus of Italian oil studies is among the most extensive of any French landscape painter, the number of studies by him of the French countryside which, like the present work, reveal his devotion to nature, are more rare. All are characterized by an appreciation and understanding of the play of light and shade, and are enlivened with energetic brush strokes which he used to evoke atmospheric effects in a fresh and immediate way.
We are grateful to Mr. Bernard Terlay, Librarian, Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, for identifying the location of the present view. He dates the painting to circa 1805, when Granet is known to have visited Jean-Antoine Constantin in Digne, and notes a drawing by Constantin of the same view (fig. 1).