The present drawing shows some of the characteristics features of Avercamp's drawing style, such as bold outlines, bright colours and expressive gestures, but it offers a contrast to the majority of his watercolours both in execution and subject. Many of his drawings show precise, highly-finished scenes in which brightly-costumed figures are engaged in different forms of recreation on the ice; but the present drawing, drawn very freely, shows gesticulating figures clustered on a beach during a storm, watching a ship founder in the waves. A lifeboat, added at a late stage and still unfinished, carries survivors towards the shore. It has much in common with another watercolour of a Storm in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, in which broadly-applied grey-blue wash is once again used to suggest heavy rain sweeping across the beach, and where Avercamp also excels at suggesting the strong wind buffeting the figures on the beach and their clothes (see H. Bevers, in Kunstsinn der Gründerzeit. Meisterzeichnungen der Sammlung Adolf von Beckerath, Berlin, 2002, no. 56). In the background of the present drawing, almost hidden by the crowd, a whale has been washed up on the shore: an event that in the 17th Century would have been regarded as a symbol of catastrophe and disaster. They may have been considered an ill omen, but beached whales were nevertheless also objects of wonder, as marvels of creation, and Avercamp was doubtless inspired by two well-known incidents of whales stranded on Dutch beaches around the year 1600. A sperm whale had been washed up at Berckhey in 1598, recorded in a drawing by Hendrick Goltzius (Hendrick Goltzius, exhib. cat., Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, and New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003, no. 65), and another was beached at Noordwijk in 1614, the subject of an etching by Esaias van de Velde (Hollstein 1).
The inscription 'Stomme van Campen' ('the Mute from Kampen') alludes to the fact that Avercamp had been mute, and probably also deaf, from birth.