The Seine and its surrounding countryside were often painted by Monet throughout his life. He spent much of his life living within close proximity to the river and her tributaries.
In this painting of The Seine at Rouen, Monet has used a wonderful balance of verticals and horizontals. The line of houses and buildings that winds into the distance provides a strong horizontal, enhanced by the expanse of sky reminiscent of Dutch landscapes. Here, Monet was concerned less to have his sailboats stand out sharply against the water's smooth surface, than to fit them into the general structure of verticals and horizontals. Despite the widespread view that the Impressionists and their leader, Monet, gave little thought to the structure of their landscapes, while concentrating on fleeting impressions, The Seine at Rouen is notable for its truly "constructive" composition.
In 1873 Camille Pissarro referred to Monet's art as:
a highly conscious art, based upon observation, and on a completely new feeling; it is poetry through the harmony of pure colors, Monet adores real nature.