The year 1967 was a critical year for Joan Mitchell. With inherited funds, she purchased a two-acre property in the town of Vétheuil, France where she would live and work until her death in 1992. The year also marked the beginning of her professional relationship with the dealer Jean Fournier, who helped to provide a stable environment and acted as a reassuring presence in Mitchell's new life. Throughout the artist's career, it is interesting to note that changes in her immediate location and environment would bring upon new, formally original developments in her painting. During the summer of 1967, her style which was always somewhat mutable in form, in particular her choice of palette and facture of brushwork, underwent a major transformation.
This work belongs to the first cycle of paintings executed in 1967, and is similar in appearance to Untitled II, 1967 from the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Although it was most likely painted in her Paris Frémicourt studio, the impact of her new rural surrounding is noticeable. Mitchell was at once inspired by the views of the landscape and gardens as well as the river Seine nearby, which also moved Monet to capture them on canvas. "Since her earliest visits to Vétheuil, the river Seine has provided a fruitful subject for Mitchell's art. Her painted river represents a composite of feelings associated with memories of real rivers and other bodies of water. Mitchell's paintings of rivers dating from 1967-68 exhibit opaque, loosely brushed, roundish areas of blue or green floating on large luminous white grounds." (J. E. Bernstock, Joan Mitchell, exh. cat., New York, 1988, pp. 76-77).
Like Monet, Mitchell sought to convey a pastoral idyll in her landscape paintings, where nature is held in perfect equilibrium of sky, land and water. In the present painting, Mitchell depicts these elements as organic circular configurations that seem to arise and descend in equal measure mimicking the rhythms of the natural world. Instead of painting a literal view of the Seine, Mitchell drew upon her personal response to the landscape and created a picture of buoyant nature. The colors are pure and contrasted between warm and cool tones while her brushstrokes contain a vitality and sensitivity which are unique to her work.