This vertical-format painting shows the south beach of Skagen. It stretches in a slight curve into the distance, taking up more than three quarters of the picture surface. Dunes rise on the horizon and the sea extends to the right. Above is a narrow strip of dark, bleak sky.
The viewer’s standpoint is in the middle of the whitewashed sand. Footsteps along the water’s edge catch the eye. They lead to a small, dark figure walking in the distance below the horizon and scaring a flock of seagulls which fly away above the sea.
The figure underscores the vastness of the landscape and, in its solitude, epitomises the essential mood of the painting: as twilight sets in, the cool blue of the sky descends over the landscape, exuding calm as well as a certain wistfulness. The tranquillity and contemplation Krøyer visualises here reflects the seclusion the painters sought and found in Skagen.
The bluish atmospheric glow of the landscape, in particular, was characteristic of Peder Severin Krøyer’s Skagen paintings and expressive of his individual passion for Nordic light: “Skagen can look terribly boring in broad daylight, when the weather is good ... But when the sun is going down … that has, in recent years, been my favourite moment.” It is the time of the blue hour.