Guy Rose visited the village of Giverny as early as 1890 at the urging of Theodore Robinson. Rose became enchanted with the picturesque French village nestled in the valley of the Seine and made close friends with many of the American artists painting there. After first staying at the Hotel Baudy, in 1904 Rose and his wife acquired a house in Giverny, which would become their primary residence for the next eight years.
Although Rose's artistic activity centered around the painting colony at Giverny, he also travelled to the city of Honfleur at the mouth of the Seine in Brittany, where he painted a number of canvases, including Nôtre Dame de Grace, Honfleur. This work, with its dazzling display of Impressionistic brushwork, foreshadows the bold coloring of Rose's later California coast pictures, such as Carmel Dunes (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Nôtre Dame de Grace, Honfleur includes other compositional devices that the artist would develop more fully in his California paintings, such as twisting tree trunks silhouetted against a bright source of light. I.S. Fort has writtten, "He found the gnarled limbs and fantastic shapes of the California cypress and the delicately rippled limbs of the eucalyptus as decorative in effect as the French poplars, tamarisks, and fig trees." ("The Cosmopolitan Guy Rose" California Light: 1900-1930, p. 103)