Eckersberg's fascination with shipping and the sea -- the primary subject of his paintings in the 1830s and the 1840s -- dated back to his childhood upbringing on the Jutland coast, and a brief but early apprenticeship with a local craftsman, Jes Jessen. Jessen had a sideline in the relatively new genre of ship portraiture, which demanded the accurate rendition of a ship's manifold individual characteristics.
Marine painting provided Eckersberg with the perfect forum in which to indulge his long-lived interest in rendering changing atmostpheric conditions, which he also pursued with almost scientific thoroughness. He made almost daily meteorological studies, annotating his drawings with details of wind, waves and clouds. As Suzanne Ludvigsen writes of a comparable painting; "Nothing about the painting has been left to chance. The degree of complexity, the dimensions of the canvas, the size and position of the ships on the sea all play their parts in a precisely calculated composition -- as do the clouds, the waves and each nuance of colour".(Exh. cat. Danish Paintings of the Golden Age, Artemis Fine Arts, New York, 1999, no. 2)
The present painting also bears witness to Eckersberg's rigorously classical training under Nicolai Abildgaard, under whom the artist developed a strong fascination with perspective. This was further reinforced by the numerous architectural pictures he created whilst in Paris and Rome. The spatial relationship of the ships to the waves, and to each other is particularly complex, with each ship not only of a different type, but also depicted at a completely different angle to the viewer. Despite its carefully constructed and almost geometric nature, Eckersberg has dissembled his artifice in an almost photographic snapshot, in which even the speed and direction of the wind can be clearly discerned.
Eckersberg recorded in his diary that he finished the present work on 25 February 1825.