The attribution of this study of two intertwining tree trunks has proved very difficult and the particular site has not been identified. The present attribution to Desportes is suggested because the artist and his studio particularly valued the skilful painting of such naturalistic subjects. Desportes was known for his hunting landscapes and portraits of royal hunting dogs, but an inventory of the contents of his studio made in 1784 mentions sketches of tree trunks and plants. These would have been incorporated into the backgrounds of his paintings.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN