The strength of coloration prominent in this painting is imaginably as vivid as when it was painted in the 19TH Century by the highly esteemed J.E.C. Petersen. The composition of shoreline rocks interplaying with the strict horizon and the ships sailing by and large with the apparently stiff breeze, displaying its off-shore direction upon the white caps’ spray. The closest ship, a brigantine, has a sharper sag to its hull than the barkentine beyond. In all, an arguable 14 ships are within the painted confines of the vast sea.
A contrast of the natural states of matter - gas, liquid, and solid; sky, ocean, and rocks - harmoniously present, with the sailing ships in action. Petersen’s window to the east Coast is not specifically located, but harkens one to think of Black Rock at low tide, just outside of Gloucester, or quite possibly Brant Point, Nahant; looking south. Petersen is known to have painted both of these locations during his too brief American career.
No matter the spot, Petersen has stepped toward the realm of the best American “wet landscape” artists, offering substantial comparisons to the realistic depths of John Frederick Kensett, Martin Johnson Heade’s aggressive luminous coloration, and Alfred Thompson Bricher’s sense of composition.