Two horsemen in fashionable sportswear are riding on the sandy beach along the water’s edge. Their upright, attentive posture contrasts with the waves rolling unobstructed onto the shore and the diffuse cloud cover in the sky above them. While the horse in front moves in a controlled, smooth trot ahead of the shallow water, the second horseman has some trouble to curb his horse as it balks at the waves. Liebermann captures the horses’ movements, the vigorous play of their muscles and the lustre of their rust-brown coats gleaming in the sun with confidently applied brushstrokes. The elegance of the riders and horses reflects the lifestyle of the upper-class people who spent their summers in the Dutch sea resorts, with the artist being one of them.
By 1914, Liebermann had created a sizeable group of approximately fifty equestrian paintings. The art critic Albert Dresdner was enthralled when he saw the first version of the subject from 1901: “The movement of the two horses and the postures of the riders are superbly observed, and the way the horsemen merge with the humid air around them, how they ‘sit’ in it, is unlikely to be surpassed in painterly representation.”