In the present pastel, Monet depicts the atmospheric, fog-covered river Thames as viewed from his apartment in the Savoy Hotel, the spot from which he executed his celebrated series of both Waterloo and Charing Cross Bridges. The weakening afternoon sunlight just barely penetrates the fog in Waterloo Bridge, Brouillard - a few successful rays highlighting the surface of the river at right as three barges move slowly upstream. Through the mist one can just discern the landscape of London beyond the silhouette of Waterloo Bridge.
Monet's experiments with pastel during this period came out of necessity - his canvasses had been delayed in customs upon exit from France, giving him over a week's time to experiment with a medium he had neglected since his visit to Etretat in 1885. One of fifteen works in pastel he executed of the subject, the fog and mist of London captivated Monet just as it had for Joseph Mallord William Turner before him. As Monet commented, "I so love London, but I only love it in the winter... nothing is like it in the winter with fog, for without the fog London wouldn't be a beautiful city. It's the fog that gives it its magnificent breadth. Those massive, regular blocks become grandiose with the mysterious cloak (quoted in G. Seiberling, Monet in London, exh. cat., High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 1989, p. 55).
Monet's technique, whether in oil or pastel, suggests spontaneity. The broad, gestural strokes seem almost chaotic, giving an illusion of immediacy and speed. However, upon close inspection, Monet carefully and deliberately built-up layers of tones to achieve the deft rendering of atmosphere and perspective in Waterloo Bridge, brouillard.