Simon de Vlieger married Anna Gerridts van Willige in Rotterdam on January 10, 1627, and was repeatedly recorded in that city through 1633. Early in 1634, De Vlieger moved to Delft, where he became a member of the artists’ guild on October 18. He bought a house in Rotterdam on December 1637 from the painter Cryn Hendricksz. Volmaryn for 900 guilders. As part of this transaction, De Vlieger agreed to deliver for a stipulated period paintings totaling a value of 31 guilders per month. The present painting may well be executed during his Rotterdam residence.
According to Dr. J. Kelch our painting can be placed stylistically among the depictions of shipwrecks dating from the 1630s (written communication 8 September 1984). ‘In spite of the grotesque structure of the waves, which makes one think of this storm as an early work, the fine treatment of the atmosphere pleads without any doubt for the given later date.’ Kelch suggests that the work originates slightly later than the (now lost) ‘Shipwreck on the rocks’ from the Dresden Gemäldegalerie. In respect to the last picture, F. Willis would comment that ‘without the work of Jan Porcellis this painting would be unthinkable’.
The expressiveness of De Vlieger’s pasty waves is unequalled by any marine painter of the seventeenth century. Even Rembrandt kept work of the artist in his private collection of paintings. Dr. Walter Liedtke, curator of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, was much impressed by the free brushwork of this ‘superb De Vlieger’, which he considered to be of ‘historical importance’ (written communication 30 May 1987).