Beach scenes are rare within Isaac van Ostade's oeuvre. Hofstede de Groot records just a dozen (of which a few are probably duplicated), and only three with signatures (C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisone etc., London, 1910, I, pp. 472-3, no. 118-121d). Dr Bernhard Schnackenburg regards this unpublished example as an 'important contribution' to the genre and dates it to the middle of the artist's career, circa 1644. It corresponds closely in character with the artist's only known dated beach scene and probably his best known work of this kind, the picture of 1649 (sold, Christie's, Amsterdam, 7 May 1996, lot 138), whose handling is nevertheless rather looser and the composition more crowded. In stylistic terms, the present work is probably closer to a beach scene in a private collection, England (Hofstede de Groot, no. 118), which must rank as the artist's masterpiece within this genre.
We are grateful to Dr. Bernhard Schnackenburg for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs.