Signac was brought up in the Paris area and found the Seine and its bridges a constant source of inspiration. Guillaume Apollinaire commented in L'Intransigeant of January 1911 on the significance of these subjects in Signac's watercolours "Les aquarelles se rapportent toutes aux aspects de la Seine dans Paris et elles sont réunies sous ce titre; Ponts de Paris, et n'est-ce pas ce que Paris a de plus beau: la Seine et ses ponts?"
The bold and expressive brushstrokes which enliven the surface of the Pont Royal, Automne are typical of the artist's mature work. "Signac adopted a larger brushstroke, and began to work in mosaic-like blocks of paint, placed separately on the white-primed canvas, and sometimes at an angle to suggest directional movement. The priming is often left visible around the touches, and gives the painting a luminosity, alongside the richness of its colour" (J. House, exh. cat., Post-Impressionism, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1979, p. 140).
Signac described his process of colour-composition: "the painter, starting from the contrast of two colours, opposes, modified and balances these elements on either side of the boundary between them, until he meets another contrast, and starts the process over again; so, working from contrast to contrast, he covers his canvas" (P. Signac, D'Eugène Delacroix au Néo-Impressionisme, Paris, 1899).
A preparatory drawing for the present work was previously in the Robert Lehman Collection, and in 1975 was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.