La Grenouillère, 1869 by Claude Monet

La Grenouillère was a popular middle class resort consisting of a spa, a boating establishment and a floating café. Optimistically promoted as "Trouville-sur-Seine", it was located on the Seine near Bougival, easily accessible by train from Paris and had just been favoured with a visit by Emperor Napoleon III with his wife and son. Monet and Renoir both recognized in La Grenouillère an ideal subject for the images of leisure they hoped to sell.

As in his earlier picture of the Garden at Sainte-Adresse, Monet concentrated on repetitive elements - the ripples on the water, the foliage, the boats, the human figures - to weave a fabric of brushstrokes which, although emphatically brushstrokes, retain a strong descriptive quality.

Monet and Pierre Auquste Renoir painted together at La Grenouillere. In a letter from Renoir to Bazille, he wrote, 'I'm almost always with my friend Monet.... I'm happy because as for as painting goes, Monet is good company,' Both artists were struggling financially and their choice of subject in painting La Grenouillere would have been based on the assumption that the pictures would appeal to the bourgeois patrons of the area. Although his subject matter is, on the surface, that of the middle classes enjoying their leisure time, the true nature of his painting is the reflection of light on the water. The figures lose their identity, becoming decorative elements in the overall pattern of light and colour.