In order to paint this picture, Monet made a great effort to reach the exact location that he thought was necessary for the best viewpoint. It is recorded that he was seen clambering over cliffs and rocks dragging six or seven canvases with him. This would be in keeping with his ideals concerning the plein-air technique, although the reality was that he finished most of the canvases in his studio.
Cliffs and Sailboats at Pourville (1882) seem to lack some of the obvious spontaneity evident in other paintings by Claude Monet, although the scurrying clouds in the former have some sense of being captured on canvas on location. The painting depicts sailing boats, which had already proved a popular subject when Monet lived at Argenteuil. Vague lines separate the shore from the sea and the sea from the sky.