My eye is caught by the rock in this picture, although my friends would say that’s nothing new. The rock is carefully observed by the artist, just as a geologist might sketch a scene to capture characteristic features and disposition. In the shadowy foreground we see creamy, well-bedded marls or sands, overlain by a blocky grey limestone. The high cliff, a more massive limestone, hints at the mountains beyond. Even the vegetation, favouring some rock layers over others, can give us clues to understanding the origins and history of these rocks.
This painting captures so much of the geological history of this part of the French Alps, where sediments accumulated on the bed of a warm sea were scraped up, stacked up and folded like a crumpled rug as Africa and Europe collided.