In 1871, Norbert Goeneutte entered the studio of Isidore Pils at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. When Pils died in 1875 Henri Lehmann took over the studio and Goeneutte left, moving to Montmartre. There he met Auguste Renoir, for whom he often modeled. Although Goeneutte was associated with Manet, Degas and Renoir, and they influenced his work, for instance in the informality of his compositions, he never exhibited with the Impressionist group, preferring instead the official Salon. Every year from 1876, he exhibited several works in the Salon. He visited London in 1880, Rotterdam in 1887 and Venice in 1890.
In 1891, Goeneutte moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, where Dr. Paul Gachet had a studio in his home. In 1892, he exhibited a portrait of Dr. Gachet. Goeneutte portrayed a variety of themes: portraits, scenes depicting the everyday lives of working class and fashionable Parisians. His subjects are depicted simply but with careful attention to detail, and his work emanates a remarkable tranquility.
Linked to the Impressionists but evolving from the Realist tradition, Goeneutte painted scenes from contemporary Parisian life. He painted Parisian views and one example, a rare work from his early period, is the atmospheric Boulevard de Clichy sous la neige, (Tate Gallery, London) exhibited at the Salon of 1876, his first appearance there. During the 1880s he painted many images of elegant Parisian scenes which inspired artists such as Jean Béraud, Luigi Loir and Eugène Galien Laloue.