Sisley settled in the small village of Saint-Mammès, situated at the junction of the Seine and Loing rivers, in the autumn of 1883. Vivienne Couldery described the village as an "essentially Impressionist place (with) green woods and pastures, curving tree-lined banks of rivers, canals, and narrow streams, wide stretches of river, old stone houses, churches and bridges" (Alfred Sisley: The English Impressionists, Exeter, 1992, p. 68). The constantly changing life of the river provided Sisley with a continued source of inspiration and over the course of the next ten years he painted nearly fifty views of the Loing canal from different vantages. In a letter dated 23 July 1885, Durand-Ruel encouraged Sisley to concentrate on "smaller and lighter paintings."
In the present painting, Sisley portrays the village of Saint-Mammès as viewed across the expanse of the river. The palette and low horizon of the present painting are typical of his radical approach to the landscape from this period. As Sisley confided to his friend, the art critic Adolphe Tavèrnier, "Objects should be rendered with their own unique textures and above all they should be bathed in light as they are in nature . . . The sky is simply not a background; its planes give depth and the shapes of the clouds give movement to the picture" (quoted in ibid., p. 71). The sense of movement in the painting is also achieved through Sisley's use of fluid brushstrokes that suggest the dappling effect of sunlight as it plays across the water and riverbanks and the strong diagonals of the composition draw the viewer into the scene.