Monet spent most of 1884 traveling throughout France, painting landscapes in Bordighera and the Côte d'Azur in the South, and later at Etretat on the coast of the English Channel. At the onset of winter, he returned home to Giverny, where he had purchased a house and property in 1883. The dealer Durand-Ruel was buying many of his paintings, and in 1882-1884 Monet made around 45,000 francs each year, giving him substantial financial security, even though he still complained of difficulties in letters to his friends and collectors.
Monet could now easily afford to spend more time with his companion Alice Hoschedé and their family, whom he missed dearly. During the final months of 1884 and through the spring of 1885 he stayed at home in Giverny, and explored the surrounding countryside for new subjects. The winter of 1884-1885 was cold and snowy, and within the immediate vicinity of Giverny he painted nine pictures showing the local landscape under a blanket of snow or in icy conditions (Wildenstein, nos. 961-968). As spring neared and the weather moderated, he ventured further afield, and following the road leading eastward to the nearby village of Gasny, he liked to stop and set up his easel near the small hamlet of Falaise. Here and along this route he painted the present work and ten others (Wildenstein, nos. 969-979), depicting the small farmsteads nestled in the rolling hills of the Val de Falaise. While Wildenstein describes this painting as a paysage d'hiver, the barrenness of winter has begun to recede, and the time is likely early spring, as the meadow in the foreground below the road has already thrown up its first green shoots, and buds have begun to appear on the trees.
Monet utilized compositional devices in this picture that had served him well during his recent painting trips in both the north and south of France. A low, flat foreground gives way to the rising mass of the hillside, the base of which is marked by the presence of the houses along the road, which delineates the central horizontal axis of the picture and serves as a transitional middle ground. The hill occupies the largest area of the canvas, creating an elevated horizon surmounted by only a narrow band of sky. Monet creates the effect of receding distance with the judicious placement of trees and the diagonal of a road as it ascends the hillside at upper left. Strong color fills the foreground, with more neutral tones in the distance.
A related painting, Hameau de Falaise près Giverny (Wildenstein, no. 974; sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1995, lot 113) was done shortly later, with the artist's easel turned slightly to the left side, after spring had finally arrived. This sequencing of motifs increasingly preoccupied Monet during the later 1880s. During the late summer of 1885 he painted several pictures of haystacks in Giverny (Wildenstein, nos. 993-995), precursors to the celebrated series of haystacks, followed by cypresses and cathedral exteriors, of the early 1890s. The artist's interest in temporality and fleeting atmospheric effects was gradually evolving into a more methodical and analytical involvement with process. While the artist was careful to capture the effects of the changing seasons, he also recorded aspects of the landscape that have remained the same over the years. Wildenstein in his entry for the present painting notes that "although many of the buildings have changed radically, the farmyard on the right still looks just as it did then" (op. cit.).