Monet returned to France from London in 1872 and settled in Argenteuil (a town on a picturesque stretch of the Seine, eleven kilometres from central Paris), where he lived until 1876. His contemporaries Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet and Alfred Sisley joined him and, for a time, Argenteuil became a hub of artistic activity. It was during this time that Monet created some of his most characteristic paintings. In order to observe the effects of sunlight on water more closely, Monet often worked from a boat-turned-studio. In Argenteuil, the rust-red boats, painted in contrasting colours to the blue water and sky and the green water plants, are depicted surrounded by shimmering light – perhaps the true subject of the painting.
This painting was one of Domenica Walter's last acquisitions (c.1955), reflecting her particular interest in Impressionism.