The Amsterdam painter Jan van de Cappelle specialised in seascapes with fishing boats. He often placed the horizon very low, so that there was plenty of space for impressive cloudy skies that determine the atmosphere. That is also the case in this seascape, in which some travellers are being ferried ashore from a ship.
Van de Cappelle was a wealthy entrepreneur and merchant, who painted mainly for pleasure. He was also a collector, possessing 500 drawings by Rembrandt, among other works.