A man and two women in elegant dress promenade towards us, a local fisherman with his rod walks away, some boats are beached on the shore, other figures are hastily sketched in. Constable’s real interest was in capturing the broad expanse of beach and cloud filled sky and in suggesting the freshness of the air. His use of a relatively low horizon gives emphasis to the sky and the movement of the cloud masses in it. Nonetheless, the presence of the figures on the beach and the houses on the cliffs make the sea and sky seem less ‘wild’.
Although this is a cabinet picture and not a sketch, Constable painted rapidly to create an impression of the scene, capturing the atmospheric conditions, the play of light on the sea and beach and the uncertainty of the weather. It has a freshness and luminosity that anticipates the paintings of Eugène Boudin.