Coastal scenes from northern France became increasingly common in the second half of the 19th century. As the region became popular as a resort, the market for this type of images increased. Millet’s coastal seascape is a study for a larger painting. It is not clear whether the lines in the painting are part of a sketch that the artist intended to paint over – or if they were intended to outline the cliffs, as an aid to memory when working on the larger painting. Millet was best known for his paintings of rural life and harsh farm labour.