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In 1871 Corot left Paris and the upheaval of Commune life to stay with his biographer and friend Alfred Robaut at Douai in north-east France.

Corot was enthusiastic about the scenery, and in his letters mentions his fascination with the marshes and plains around the village of Arleux. There are two versions of this composition. According to Robaut: the first was painted in May 1871 and was based on a study by Robaut himself; the second was painted by Corot from nature and completed back in his studio after his return to Paris.

The boat and stream, which are standard in Corot's late work, are dominated here by the steep perspective of the trees. In contrast to the misty effects of many late works, the 'Landscape at Arleux-du-Nord' is solidly painted and shows Corot's sensitive observation of outdoor light.