Jules Dupré started his career by following in his father's footsteps, as a porcelain decorator. He also made studies of the landscape surrounding the factory at Limousin, before moving to Paris in 1829, where he became friends with fellow landscape painters Théodore Rousseau and Constant Troyon. There he studied under Jean-Michel Diébolt, who encouraged his interest in painting en plein air with a particular focus on depicting changing weather and light conditions - a concern which continued into his later work, as seen in the present painting.
A trip to England in 1831 allowed the young Dupré to encounter Constable's work and to meet the artist himself. He was particularly inspired by Constable's tactile treatment of the sky, an influence reflected in the sky of the present work.
Upon his return to France, Dupré travelled through the French countryside and became a key member of the Barbizon group, representing the second generation of painters who concentrated on scenes of rural France. His painting style was a compelling mix of the realistic and the romantic - he saw nature as majestic and almost spiritual and believed, for example, that trees were significant elements which served to link heaven and earth.
This is a late work from his successful career, completed in the last decade of the artist's life. He experiments with dragging paint to create the reflections in the river, which contrast with the stippled brushstrokes used for the sky and foliage. The cottages seem dwarfed by nature, as the sky forms the greater part of the composition. Dupré creates a real sense of movement where blustery grey clouds threaten at rain to come in an otherwise sunny day.
The authenticity of this work has previously been confirmed by M. M. Aubrun.