In order to improve his health, Van Gogh traveled in 1888 via stagecoach to the small seaside fishing village of SaintesMaries.
The trip occurred six years after he wrote of his desire to paint sea, sand and sky. Within a few days of his arrival , he had completed several paintings, including this one. Mirroring the influence of Japanese prints, Van Gogh’s fluid movements brought vibrancy to the painting through technique. In this painting, whitecaps are portrayed by vertical lines and horizontal lines are depicted by a calmer sea on the horizon. “I made the drawing of the boats when I left very early in the morning,” he wrote brother Theo. “...But as they leave very early I didn’t have time to paint them.” He did so at a later date in his studio.