This painting is another good example of the impressionist movement of which Monet was a driving force along with other contemporaries of his time.
In order to understand the painting more thoroughly it is first useful to look at the context in which Monet created this scene, how it represented the mood of his peer group and also Monet's wish to preserve something of the French landscape of his times.
Monet and other artists such as Degas and Cézanne, who were part of the same impressionist movement, had moved away from the more rigid painting conventions of their predecessors and had been rejected by institutions such as The Académie Des Beaux-Arts as their style was considered too avant-garde.
Therefore, the painting reflects not only the fluid lines of the impressionist paintings of that time which were not meant to have the photographic qualities of earlier styles but also Monet's desire to characterise the French landscape and capture this in his seascapes and landscapes.
Another interesting facet of the painting is the illustration of Monet's masterly skill at painting water for which he was renowned. This also demonstrates another of the impressionist objectives of the era which was to understand the effects of light and the interplay of colours on local objects and scenes.
In the Breakwater at Trouville, Low Tide, Monet has portrayed the ocean at low tide and evoked the sensation of water flowing out towards the sea towards a vanishing point in the distance, where the eye is drawn towards a small sailboat.
The sense of distance is developed by the near and far piers shown in relief against the dark rock and the horizon which give a sense of perspective.
Human interest is provided by the two fishermen who also bring attention to the foreground and to other details, such as the bare feet of one of the men who stands in the wet sand on the bank. This also creates a clever technique by the painter to enhance the impression of the shallowness of the water in this part of the artwork.
As mentioned above, Monet was fascinated by the effects of light and colour, and in this cloudy scene the reflections from the sails on the boats in the foreground have been perfectly represented in the painting and also add to the notion of the shallowness of the water. He would learn much from seeing Turner's Fighting Temeraire in person.
On the right hand side of the picture the clouds apparent on this rather overcast day are also reflected in the water to add to the mood of the scene and show the weather at this particular moment in time. He also manages to evoke the temporary nature of what we are seeing, as there is a subtle and underlying sense of the return of the tide in the near future.
Therefore, part of the beauty and artistry of Monet's painting is due to the dual aspects of looking at the painting of the breakwater and knowing that this is a passing moment in time, but one that has been encapsulated in a manner that also manages to impart a sense of the timeless and infinite.