Egmond-aan-Zee, on the north sea coast to the west of Alkmaar, can be identified by its church (on the right of the picture), which survived until 1743, when it was engulfed by the sea. The painting is primarily a study of the natural forces of sea and sky, water and waves contrasted with the grey and white cloud formations. The figures, which are more prominent than is usual in van Ruisdael's work, may be by the Amsterdam painter, Gerard van Battem (1636 - 1684).
Though mainly a specialist in landscapes, van Ruisdael also painted a number of seascapes and beach scenes. This painting is a late example, probably of the mid-1670s.