By 1880, Gustave Caillebotte and his brother Martial had bought a summer home in Petit Gennevilliers, a small village on the Seine near Argenteuil, following the sale of the family residence in Yerres the previous year after their mother's death. He spent increasing amounts of time in Petit Gennevilliers, before moving there definitively in 1887. His source of artistic inspiration correspondingly changed, and the subject matter of his paintings, formerly urban in nature, dealt increasingly with landscapes. Pommiers au bord de la mer, Trouville dates from 1880, and is part of an important series of depictions done of the Normandy Coast which he continued through the first half of that decade. The centre of the present painting is dominated by a leafy apple tree on a lush, green cliff side overlooking the sea, as viewed from a high perspective, almost on a level with the horizon. This composition underlines Caillebotte's interest in the artistic device of flattening space. The artist employs a naturalist palette as commented by Arthur Hustin, an art critic, in 1882, when he could have discussing this very painting: 'Here now he forgets for a few hours his tube of blue, his violet, in order to see somewhat like the rest of the world, and to search out his road to Damascus. A long stay in Normandy has educated his eye and here he is returning to us with his Bois près de la mer, with apple trees where the greens begin to be more supple, closer to lifelike' (A. Hustin, 'Exposition des peintres indépendants', in L'Estafette, 3 March 1882).
By this time, continued infighting among the founding members of the Impressionist group and, in particular, Caillebotte's conflicts with Degas about the future direction of their exhibitions, caused Caillebotte to retreat from the group, resulting in his decision to make 1882 his last showing with the group. The present painting was, in all probability, included in that historic exhibition, and has not been publicly seen since then, having remained in the artist's family since the year it was painted.