Heade’s depictions of the sea are characteristically disquieting, with harsh, cold light, jutting rocks, and dark, empty water. This painting is a prime example in a series of coastal views painted by Heade in the 1860s, all apparently stimulated by the Rhode Island coast. Intent on conveying mood and capturing the fleeting, often hostile elements of nature, Heade sacrificed realistic representation, while elongating form, distorting perspective, and exaggerating color contrasts. The soft ribbons of the clouds, chosen to reinforce the horizontal rhythms of the composition, are a signature of Heade’s work. The incoming waves, frozen in time at the peak of cresting, contribute to the surreal effect.