Born in Cassel in 1815, Andreas Achenbach began his art education in 1827 at the Düsseldorf Academy of Painting under Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow (1789-1862). In his early work he followed the idealism of the German Romantic School, but following his move to Munich in 1835, the influence of Louis Gurlitt (1812-1897) turned his talent in a new direction. He was a prominent member of the Düsseldorf School and one of the founders of the German Realistic School.
The present lot is a large scale example of Achenbach's adeptness at capturing the struggle of man and machine against the forces of nature. The precise detailing visible in the various figures on the quay and in the ships that are struggling to manoeuvre in the harbour, creates a powerful and expressive realism within the painting. The heavy grey clouds contrast beautifully with the pink and gold hues which illuminate large parts of the composition. A further contrast is brought about between the slow moving clouds and the fast moving water.