'The 'Storm Brewing' of 1890 was painted from a study made, whilst afloat, between the North Foreland and Flushing. The canvas is simply sea and sky, a soft, somewhat oily sea, and a delicately beautiful sky, pearly and faintly rose-tinted. A thunderous atmosphere is subtly suggested; for subtle effect, indeed, it is one of Moore's most noteworthy efforts. The longer one looks at it the more does the attraction of its delicate harmonies grow upon the senses. Another picture, that is somewhat similar in sentiment, is 'A Thunderstorm Passing Off', which was shown at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1889, and passed into Mr. Burnett's collection. Here we have a rough sea calming down, a lowering sky, a brooding atmosphere in a key of grey and violet; the sensation of thunder in the air more pronounced than in the former work. Both are admirable examples of a species of effect in which Henry Moore excelled not less than in his rendering of the salt, blue, turbulent sea'. (Maclean, p.90)
Flushing (Vlissingen), is a town south-west of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. North Foreland is close to Broadstairs on the Kent coast. From 1872, through new railway connections and boat services this became one of the main routes for passenger traffic between England and the Continent. Moore may have conceived this work whilst on one of these ferries, although it is more likely that he was aboard the boat of his friend, Mr Burnett. Mr Burnett owned a yacht called Dawn on which he liked to cruise up and down the Channel, and Moore was a frequent visitor from 1873, painting prolifically. On one cruise he painted fourteen oil studies and forty or fifty in pencil or water-colour. He was passionate about capturing every weather effect, and well known for working in adverse weather conditions. Once whilst sailing out to the Mediterranean in a gale, he tied himself and his canvas to the rail of the bridge and remained out there for several hours frantically sketching, eventually giving up when the sea threatened to wash him away. Of Moore, the Art Journal's obituarist wrote: 'In his hands marine painting reached a level to which it has been brought by no other artist. The sea became Henry Moore's motive for all his finest in out-of-door colour, light and atmospheric effect; all his canvases will in years to come be held as standards against which to measure the performances of generations yet unborn'.