This picture dates from the same year that Tillemans and his brother-in-law, Pieter Casteels (1684-1749), travelled to England, where they remained for the rest of their lives. According to Vertue, Tillemans did 'extreamly well' there, painting 'small peices of his own Composition & [copying] Bougonione for Battles, which he did many & of his own designs very well, & landskips of other Masters coppyd extreamly well'. Patronised extensively by the British aristocracy, his patrons included the Dukes of Bolton, Devonshire, Rutland and Somerset and the Earls of Derby and Portmore; at one stage he was drawing-master to Lord Byron's family. Tillemans also found work at Newmarket and in the 1720s briefly rivalled John Wootton as England's foremost sporting artist.
Very little, however, is known of his early training; Vertue records that 'after 7 years Study under indifferent Masters, he took to the manner of Van Meyren, in small figures, landscapes, Sea ports, Views, wherein having some success'. 'Van Meyren' presumably refers to Jan Baptist van der Meiren (1664-c. 1708), whose influence is very clear in the present work: one might compare it, for example, with the Harbour Scene by Van der Meiren sold, Sotheby's, London, 4 July 1990, lot 98. Such early works by the artist are rare (the majority of Tillemans' recorded oeuvre dates from after 1720) and it is indicative that, when sold in 1899, this picture was thought to be by an unknown artist of the same surname; with such a clear link to Van der Meiren's work, therefore, this painting represents an important insight into the Tillemans' Flemish period.