Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts will include this painting in their forthcoming Pissarro catalogue raisonné being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
In July of 1903 Pissarro and his family settled in the channel port of Le Havre, where they would remain until September of that same year. Pissarro had considered staying on a third year in Dieppe, where he had painted in 1901 and 1902. Instead they took a suite of rooms at the Hôtel Continental in Le Havre, which over looked the harbor and its quays.
Pissarro's paintings from this period represent the last series he was to undertake before his death in November 1903. The views of Le Havre clearly agreed with the artist, as it presented him with an abundant source of movement and activity. As the artist wrote to Gaston Bernheim on 17 July, "Here I am, settled down, working at the Hôtel Continental on the jetty. Superb and very lively motifs" (quoted in C. Lloyd, Camille Pissarro, Geneva, 1981, p. 133). On 21 September, the week before he returned to Paris, he told Georges Pissarro, "I am very glad that I came here, for one thing it is superb and has not been spoilt, and I have made several acquaintances here who like my painting and who will buy at one time or another" (quoted in ibid., p. 379).
Pissarro painted at least 18 canvases during his three-month stay in Le Havre (Pissarro and Venturi, nos. 1298-1315), all of which depict the harbor and its quays. The present painting represents the inner harbor and the Grand Quai, with the start of the pilot's jetty visible at the lower right corner of the composition. It was likely painted from the window of his room at the Hôtel Continental looking to the left, "...obliged to be alert, following the rapid changes of effects from my window, I am stuck to my post!" (quoted in J. Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, Saint-Ouen-l'Automne, 1991, vol. V, p. 351). The scene is similiar to that which Monet painted in Le Havre on two occasions in 1874 (Wildenstein, nos. 296-297), situated further down along the Grand Quai.