Backhuysen became Amsterdam's leading marine specialist when Willem van de Velde the Elder and the Younger (father and son) moved to London in 1672-1673. Ships on a stormy sea is superbly executed; the convincing way in which the ships and the atmosphere are rendered is particularly noteworthy. The artist has exploited lightdark contrasts to great effect: as dark clouds gather on the upper left, the waves are illuminated by a beautiful white light. It must be cold: on the right we see a snow covered mountain top, the only known work by Backhuysen to depict snow. This painting, which was unknown in the literature and has never been published before, turned up at an auction in England in 2007.