The painting shows several fisher pinks and a collection of people are on the shore with the curved shape of the dunes and a man on horseback. The shallow waters are perceived from a very low viewpoint. The coastal landscape, on the right, with the village of Petten, is compelling and beautiful. On the left side a Dutch tree- master at anchor, is shown in starboard-bow view. The flag of Enkhuizen flies at the main and the Dutch ensign at the stern. In the middle, a tree-master shown in port-bow view, is under way.
The careful attention to detail demonstrates an informed knowledge of maritime practice and naval architecture of the artist.
The situation of the fisher village Petten became more and more stifling in the course of time. Because of coastal erosion the village flushed slowly into the sea. In the year 1701 the new church of Petten was erected. The old church was disappearing in the dunes, and on the roof, there was a thick layer of sand, so the church could collapse any time.
The marine painter Cornelis Verbeeck was raised in Haarlem, where he joined the local Guild of St. Luke around 1610. The notorious painter, Rosicrucian and erotomaniac Johannes Torrentius (Verbeek) was his cousin. Cornelis was as well of disputable reputation; he often got in conflict with the law during his youth. His aggressive nature is preserved in the alias ‘Smit’, deriving from the Dutch word for fighting. Despite his many run-ins with the law, Verbeeck enjoyed success as a painter in Haarlem. He primarily created small-scale scenes of naval battles, ships floundering off rocky coasts, and beach scenes, as well as a few large-scale paintings of historical events.
Verbeeck had – in agreement with his own nature – a preference for depicting ships in tempest.
Apart from such fantastic images he painted some topographically and historically correct views of the kind of the present painting. The painter signed his work either ‘CVB’ or ‘CVB H’. Only a small number of his paintings are known today.
Although there is no evidence that Verbeeck studied with the Haarlem marine painter Hendrick Cornelis Vroom (Dutch, c.1563–1640), he was clearly influenced by him, especially in his treatment of choppy waves with white, hair like spray and deep troughs. Verbeeck’s later paintings move away from Vroom’s influence and include more complex compositions and a naturalistic rendering of waves. Verbeeck’s seascapes fetched some of the highest prices among that genre and his paintings appear in multiple inventories of middle- and upper class patrons in Haarlem.