Throughout his life, the sea always held a particular fascination for Lowry. The open expanse of water and sky, separated only by the horizon line, is almost abstracted in Lowry's depiction of it, and it seems both serene and unsettling at the same time. Michael Holroyd comments, 'The supposed emptiness of these works is misleading. They are not empty, they are full. Full of an activated space and the physical entities of water, earth and atmosphere, always in shift; a space that like time is not in the end fixed by human constraints but occupies its own rhythms and patterns to which man must accommodate himself. Even the most apparently monotonous of his surfaces are on closer inspection ceaselessly in movement; boundaries and edges that separate the elements are ambiguous and blurred ... Within the totality of Lowry's work the seascapes stand as a final coda. Viewed as statements of the human condition, they offer no comprehensive affirmation but are part of a sustained response to the mysteries and profundities of existence, and ultimately they remain as enigmatic and as unknowable as the man responsible for their creation' (see Lowry A Visionary Artist, Salford, 2000, p. 245).
In his youth, holidays were spent at Lytham St Anne's on the Fylde coast at Easter, and at Rhyl, on the North West coast, during the Summer. He commented, 'It's the Battle of Life - the turbulence of the sea - and life's pretty turbulent, isn't it? I am very fond of the sea, of course, I have been fond of the sea all my life: how wonderful it is, yet how terrible it is. But I often think ... what if it suddenly changed its mind and didn't turn the tide? And came straight on? If it didn't stop and came on and on and on and on ... That would be the end of it all' (quoted in J. Spalding, exhibition catalogue, Lowry, Middlesborough, Cleveland Art Gallery, 1987, p. 61).
Lowry would return to painting the sea on several occasions at stages throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and a similar seascape, painted in 1950, is in the collection of Glasgow City Art Gallery.