In 1912 Bonnard bought a small house in the Seine valley. The house, named Ma Roulette ('My Gypsy Caravan'), was situated on the hillside above the Seine at Vernonnet near Vernon. The broad terrace of Ma Roulette, commanding a view over the river plain of the Seine, was frequently the subject for Bonnard's paintings in the 1920s. Here he also became a close friend of Claude Monet and the younger man made visits to Giverny. Bonnard took daily walks through the surrounding lush countryside, often making the short journey down to the river and to his small boat where he would entertain friends.
In La Seine a Vernon Bonnard has created a luminous environment through the use of simplified form and a bold, vibrant palette. Writing of his approach to colour, Bonnard stated, 'Colour alone will suffice to express all one wants to say - there is no need for highlighting and modeling in painting. It seemed possible for me to reproduce light, shape and character by the use of colour alone, without the help of any values' (quoted in A. Terrasse, Some thoughts on Pierre Bonnard, in exh. cat. Bonnard, Salzburg, 1991, n.p.).
It is interesting to note that while the scene depicted in the present picture emphasizes the dominance of nature, the human presence is not entirely omitted. A figure can be seen on the far left of the composition, in a boat on the river. In 1935 Bonnard stated, 'I have become a painter of landscapes, not because I have painted landscapes, I have done only a few - but because I have acquired the soul of a landscape painter insofar as I have been able to free myself of everything picturesque, aesthetical or any other convention that has been poisoning me'.