In regard to the present work Dr. Ila Weiss writes, "This is one of two oil sketches that have come to light for the striking Fire Island Beach of 1878 (Gifford Memorial Catalogue, No. 689), a version of which was exhibited at the National Academy in 1877." (Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2003, pp. 222-25)
In a letter dated October 18, 2005, Dr. Weiss writes, "Drawings by Gifford for the series' figures shooting rail appear, with sailboats, on a page of a sketchbook dated 1873 to 1879 at Vassar College. The oil sketch under consideration incorporates two of the four bird shooters that Gifford sketched in pencil. The nearest, back to the viewer, lurching forward with his rifle raised, is based on a penciled figure wearing a straw hat and a dark bag slung under his left arm. In the painting the hat is featured as an exaggeratedly bright yellow-orange dab, a reflection of the unseen, late afternoon sun, with the figure's dynamic silhouette captured in brown monochrome against the lighter sand. A standing figure is farther off to the right, his reflection indicated in a shallow pool. Both figures are more distantly placed and a third from the sketchbook page is introduced in the nearer position. He rests the butt of his gun on the sand, probably to reload, forming an attractive, radiating shape."