This work by Serres is reminiscent of earlier Dutch paintings by Willem van de Velde II (1633-1707) and Ludolf Bakhuysen (1631-1708). Serres built up a large collection of drawings by van de Velde, often studying them intently to help develop his own compositions. The centralised light, ringed with dark clouds and peripheral ships, forces your eye to concentrate on the intricate rigging of the English man-o'war. This trick was one used constantly by van de Velde, and subsequently taken on by Charles Brooking (1723-1759), a contemporary of Serres.
Marine Painter-in-Ordinary to George III, Dominic Serres' work was widely applauded: 'Serres is the best painter I know...', says a letter from Captain Hyde Parker on board the Invicible in 1777. In the same year Serres was commissioned by Hyde Parker to paint episodes from the American War of Independence (1775-82).