Monet's subject is the foot of the bridge at Bougival connecting the left bank of the Seine to
the Île de Croissy. In the late 1800s the site's scenic location and lush greenery made it a
popular area for cafés and inns frequented by throngs of weekend visitors during the summer. Monet
moved to Bougival in 1869 with Camille Doncieux, his future wife, and their son, Jean, who are
depicted crossing the bridge.
This canvas is considered one of the outstanding achievements of Monet's early career, when he
first became interested in plein air or out-of-doors painting. In choosing his subject, Monet
decided not to paint the typical scene at Bougival, with its streets swarming with vacationers.
Rather, he focused on the structure of the composition and the reflective and unifying quality of
the light. Already evident are the key components of the Impressionist style: bold patches of
colour, form as a function of colour, the development of two-dimensional space, and the exploration
of light as it simultaneously reveals and disintegrates form. Monet's immediate response to nature
is captured in an image which conveys fluttering leaves, flickering shadows on the bridge and the
glistening surface of the Seine. The scene shimmers with movement.