These two exceptionally large pastels were made in 1782 during Pillement’s second stay in Portugal, a period that is generally regarded as the peak of his career. It is during this stay that Pillement successfully added maritime pastels and paintings to his repertoire. These maritime pastels, such as the present one, show the influence of French artists such as Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and 17th-century Dutch landscape painters.
In the 1780s Pillement executed several views of the river Tagus and, like many subjects treated by the artist, these views often show similar compositions with the use of the same elements in different works. Another pastel, showing a very similar view of the river in reverse, was at Christie's, London, 7 July 2000, lot 100. Pillement also made a number of works using similar compositions with a rocky river landscape; for example the present landscape is closely comparable to Paysage de montagne: sur une route, un homme sur un âne in the Museé du Louvre, Paris (inv. RF29472, M. Gordon-Smith, Pillement, Krakow, 2006, p. 270, no. 265).