The sketch is one of the open-air studies produced by Corot during his stay in Rome in 1825-8. It was bought by Degas in 1899 and acquired by the National Gallery at the Degas sale in 1918. Executed in oil on paper, the painting is noteworthy for the freedom and spontaneity of its handling, a forerunner of the open-air sketches that Corot was to produce in the years after his return to France, like the Seine near Rouen of about 1830-5.
A morning scene, the painting shows the Alban Hills and the aqueduct of the Aqua Felice with a medieval tower in the centre. To the right and left are the arched ruins of the Aqua Claudia. The dense shadows contrast with the otherwise sunlit landscape.
28 February 2012