Following the end of the Franco-Prussian war, Pissarro returned from England to France in June 1871, to discover that the paintings he had left behind in Louveciennes were lost or destroyed. The following year he and his growing family settled in a house at 26 rue de l'Hermitage in Pontoise, a town north of Paris on the Oise river. There Pissarro began a fruitful period, and attracted a group of younger artists who looked to him for guidance and advice, including Cézanne, Guillaumin and Edouard Béliard. Unlike other artists, Pissarro never doubted Cézanne's talent, and the two men worked side by side in Pontoise and its environs. Cézanne learned much from Pissarro's maturing technique, and influenced by Cézanne, Pissarro developed a style that emphasised firmness of form and directness of expression.
Even in pastel, a medium very conducive to airy, fleeting effetcs, Pissarro projects in the present work a solidity of form, and an absolute humility before nature that allows him to capture unerringly the true colour values of a particular time and place. Pissarro later recalled how he and Cézanne shared one thing 'the only thing that counts, the unique sensation' (quoted in J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, p. 294).