The bold light effects of the moonlit harbour of Honfleur, Normandy contribute to the scene's dramatic impact. Dark clouds obscure the moon but its presence is confirmed by the brilliant patches of light and reflections in the water. These are echoed by the lighthouse's beam and its reflection. The sailing boats and steam ship provide strong dark silhouettes against the elements. This is an early work by Monet, painted with an unusual combination of palette knife and brush. He commented later on his admiration for moonlight scenes but also on the difficulties involved in painting nature at night.