Willem van de Velde trained under his father, a marine painter of the same name. The two artists dominated the seascape tradition and became famous for their accurate representation of ships.
There are a number of different boats here, including a kaag in the foreground, a small fishing boat designed to navigate inland waterways. This and the warships in the distance remind viewers of the Netherlands' power at sea, both in trade and in battle. The Dutch flag flies prominently atop many of the masts.