Sisley was fascinated by the river Seine and its small boats and barges. In 1875 he turned his attention to a stretch of the river to the west of Paris, painting the towns of Port-Marly and Marly-le-Roi, where he lived from 1875 to 1877.
The small boat in the foreground is piled with sand cleared from the river bed to keep the channel open for the many barges that sailed between Le Havre and Paris. The farm buildings were on an island in the middle of the Seine between Bougival and Port-Marly.
Sisley probably painted the scene from a boat on the river, just as Monet, active at the same time, had a floating studio at Argenteuil.
Sisley signed the painting a second time after his original signature was covered by its first owner's frame.