During this time one of the most popular leisure activities was to go boating on the Seine which is what is depicted in the painting. There has been a lot of speculation as to who the people in the painting are, the male is believed to be Rodolphe Leeenhoff, Manet's brother in law. No consensus has been reached as to who the female in the painting is, possibly being Manet's dutch wife or his friend but no-one knows for sure. The white top and white trousers that the male boater has been painted wearing has been identified as the uniform of the Tony Cercle Nautique boating club which is based in Asnières. The women's head garment features netting that was designed to keep out any water from the river or any dust as this was deemed to be a health risk at the time.

The colors in this painting have been painted so that they compliment each other nicely, with the many different shades of blue in the lady's dress matching the many different shades of blue that feature in the Seine. The man's straw hat goes well with the classic wooden color of the boat and mast, overall showing how matching colors was a key theme behind this painting. The use of strong angles are also prevalent in this painting, with the angle of the black ribbon in the lady's hat matching the angle of the rope tied to the sail.

The perspective of the entire painting is also interesting, with a lot of emphasis on the two dimensional plane. The painting is angled very low giving no horizon visible at the top making the background appear almost entirely flat which gives emphasis onto the foreground. Overall Manet has masterfully painted Boating in a beautiful oil canvas style, with clear defined brush strokes used to build up layers of textures in the woman's dress with a smooth merging of strokes used to blend the river together. This really encapsulates a variety of techniques and shows just how skillful Manet was as an oil painter.