Hendrik Willem Mesdag was born in Groningen in 1831 and interested in art from a young age. His father was an amateur painter and art collector and made sure his son received drawing lessons next to his formal education. While he worked, he kept up with his drawing and painting and only focused full time on his art when his father-in-law left a considerable amount of money after his death in 1864.

He moved to Brussels where he was a student of Willem Roelofs for three years. In 1868 he paid a visit to his brother Taco who lived at Norderney, a German wadden island and became fascinated by the sea. So much that he moved to The Hague the next year, so he could be close to the sea and the beach and document the scenery. In 1870 he sends out two paintings to the Paris Salon and even though he was a complete outsider, he won a medal. This was to be his breakthrough.

Using quick, informal brushstrokes and an infinite variety of browns, golds and greys he applied the motifs of the sea, beach and fishermen to the canvas.