James Clark Hook exhibited for over sixty years at the Royal Academy, submitting his first picture in 1839 and his last in 1902. He also occasionally exhibited at the British Institution. He established a reputation as a painter of coastal landscapes and seascapes, known as 'Hookscapes' by an admiring public. Few, however, are as dramatic as this, where the canvas is divided on the diagonal by a great swathe of cliff. The composition recalls the conventions of Japanese prints, which were being studied for the first time by those with an interest in the arts.
Hook was encouraged in his choice of subject by Ruskin who praised his Luff Boy of 1859. This and The Brook of the same year were recently included in the exhibition Ruskin, Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites (Tate Gallery, 2000), to demonstrate, according to the catalogue, 'the extent to which Ruskin's view of what constituted a Pre-Raphaelite manner had become established beyond the Pre-Raphaelite circle by the end of the 1850s'. In his rendering of rocks and fauna, Hook in this example, was still following Ruskin's dicta twenty years later.