Van Gogh painted this vibrant seascape outdoors. In fast, loose brushstrokes he tried to capture the colour of the sea. He described it as 'a colour like mackerel, in other words, changing — you don't always know if it's green or purple — you don't always know if it's blue — because a second later, its changing reflection has taken on a pink or grey hue.' (See letter to Theo van Gogh, 3/4 June 1888)
In the paint layer of this work are grains of sand that got in there during painting in the open-air.