Van Goyen was the son and grandson of cobblers and it was his father, interested himself in painting and drawing, who encouraged his son to become a stained glass painter. After the young Jan van Goyen studied with a variety of artists in his native Leiden, he decided, against his father's wishes, to enter the studio of Esaias van de Velde in 1616. Van Goyen remained in this Haarlem studio until 1618. These two years of apprenticeship had a major impact on the young artist and Van de Velde's influence is visible throughout Van Goyen's career, particularly in his feeling for space and atmosphere and in the fluidity of the brush handling.
Although Van Goyen moved away from the compositional structures of Esaias van de Velde, the present landscape still attests to the influence of the latter, for example in the richly dressed, colourful figures in the carriage. These figures, all packed together in a small cart with the coachman spuring the horses and a traveller crossing their way, lends a very vivid movement to the picture. Van Goyen chose a rather low viewpoint to emphasize this scene, and he employed several axes that lead the eye to the carriage and further into the landscape, to the village with the church tower, the distant bridge and the fisherman in his boat in the middleground. These carefully placed elements along the various diagonals establish a sense of spatial recession and movement, which is further enhanced by the manner in which the clouds are depicted. Already in this relatively early work the artist's interest in the effects of weather and atmosphere is evident.
Dr. Beck has suggested that the village with its distinctive church tower, a square base with an octagonal belltower, could be the village of Rijnsaterwoude, Zuid-Holland.