Hermanus Koekkoek, the younger brother of Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862), was born in Middelburg on 13 March 1815. Like his brother before him, he was a pupil of his father Johannes Hermanus (1778-1851) and followed in the tradition of the famous family of painters. Like his father, he was celebrated primarily for his seascapes and painted with a similar flair. By the time the present work was completed in 1861, Koekkoek had already exhibited widely in his native country.
Koekkoek had a preference for the motives which he found around the Zuiderzee, which is known today as the IJselmeer. Here he had a choice of picturesque old harbour towns such as Enkhuizen, Hoorn or Medemblik which he could include as a backdrop in his compositions. It is probable that the town which is visible in the backround of the present lot is one of these harbour towns. Furthermore, at that time the Zuiderzee was an important shipping route, providing the artist with many potential subjects. An additional advantage was the absence of a violent surf, allowing him to carefully observe the movements and rigging of the passing sailing ships. The ship in the foreground of the present lot is called a Boeier, a term coined as early as the first half of the 15th Century referring to round- or flat-keeled sailing vessels which originated in the province of Friesland.
The present lot is a magnificent example of Koekkoek's mature style. Its monumental size and the meticulous attention to detail in the figures and sailing vessels and treatment of the lively sea, combine to form an important work within the artist's oeuvre.