Bonnard did not paint outside, however he wanted to preserve in his studio paintings the freshness and immediacy of their starting point in nature. He sought to go beyond the Impressionist position; through an emphasis on composition and colour he strove to capture in paint the equivalent of an experience. Many pencil sketches exist of landscapes such as this one, where he captures the incident, the atmosphere of the moment and the texture of the visual experience.
Vernouillet is a small town in the North of France, to the West of Paris, on the Seine between Poissy and Mantes. It is fairly close to Giverny, where Monet lived. Divided into three distinct sections this painting is a symphony of greens reflecting the colours and atmosphere of the landscape. His later paintings of the South of France are far brighter and warmer in hue.
The small running figures at the bottom of the painting are characteristically enclosed within the structure of the gateway and the heavily wooded surrounding vegetation. Behind this section, where the trees and bushes are described by a myriad of differing brushstrokes and dabs of paint varying in colour from yellowish green through to dark blue, is a wide open plane divided by a zigzag road which leads the eye around a couple of dark trees to the horizon. On the horizon is a brightly lit cumulus cloud, framed by a dark cloud moving across the landscape. Rain marks can be seen diagonally on the surface of the painting from the right to the left, indicating the direction of the oncoming storm.