Jan Brueghel the Elder’s work as a draughtsman is primarily comprised of autonomous landscapes that were presumably intended for sale and which ‘are as complete in themselves as a small painting’, as the collector and art dealer Pierre-Jean Mariette remarked in 1741. This view of a beach with figures swept by a great wind bears an autograph signature with the year 1614, and is among the artist’s most remarkable works on paper. He drew within his still-moist washes with a pen and brown ink, and this caused the ink – including that of the writing – to run. Brueghel seems to have deliberately made use of this effect in order to convey the impression of the atmosphere of damp sea air.
The son of the great Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Jan Brueghel was active in Italy from 1590 to 1596 and then in Antwerp, where he worked together with his friend Peter Paul Rubens, among others. He was already famous in his own time as a painter of landscapes, still lifes of flowers, and history paintings.