The painting depicts a stormy sea on a winter day. The cliff that can be seen is that of Étretat (Seine Maritime), as Monet stayed in the city many times from the winter 1864-1865, and wrote: "I spend my time outdoors on the stone when it's big time [...] and of course I work all the time." Monet composed the painting in February 1883 from the window of the hotel he lived then. Subsequently, the painting was bought by the Parisian dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, then became the property of the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon in 1902. The museum thus became a precursor gaining early in the twentieth century Impressionist paintings.
The painting is composed of four major elements, each of them having been painted in a different way. The central part is invaded by the pearlized surfs painted in forms of commas. In the foreground, a small beach on which there are old boats filled with thatch on the left, and two fishermen with their boats in poor condition that ran aground on the shore. On the left, in the background, the cliff of Étretat can be seen and the rock strata are evoked by horizontal lines of brush. Finally, the upper part of the painting shows the sky, painted in a way that expresses a curtain of rain.