In 1871, following the Franco-Prussian War, Monet moved with his family to Argenteuil, the riverside suburb of Paris. The village had become a newly popular site visited by Parisians interested in recreational yachting, as the Seine widened and deepened there. Monet took an instant liking to the small hamlet, for it provided his keen eye with the effects of light and water and enabled him to portray the leisure activity of the burgeoning middle class. His enthusiasm for Argenteuil became infectious, also drawing Sisley, Renoir and Manet to the area throughout the 1870s. Monet spent five years in Argenteuil before returning to Paris.
Of this period in Monet's oeuvre, Paul Hayes Tucker noted:
"Monet's views of sun-dappled waters and flowering fields executed at Argenteuil in the 1870s have long been seen as constituting a classic phase of Impressionism, a period in which Monet developed a formal vocabulary of heightened color and broken brushwork which he wedded with dynamic compositions and modern subjects. While maintaining his concerns of the 1860s as a modern landscape painter, Monet pursued with even greater vigor the fleeting effects of nature and the vagaries of visual sensation...Monet lived in relative poverty working incessantly to reveal the instantaneous quality of vision, the beauties of nature and the extensive possibilities of paint" (P.H. Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven, 1982, p. 1).
Monet favored three motifs during his stay in Argenteuil: the boat rental area immediately adjacent to the new bridge that connected Argenteuil with Gennevilliers, the boat basin slightly further down the river, and the shores of the Petit Bras, a small diversion of the Seine by the Ile Marante and the site of the present painting. The present view looks towards Bezons, with the Colombes bank on the left and the Ile Marante on the right. Some of his paintings there were of this site. Monet painted three other pictures from this vantage point (Wildenstein, nos. 426, 427, and 427).