Andreas Achenbach is considered one of the leading protagonists of the Düsseldorf school of painting which in the nineteenth century contributed significantly to the development of landscape and genre painting. He was also among the artists who went to Scheveningen before the Dutch fishing village became the largest sea resort of the Netherlands and a fashionable getaway destination of the Hague bourgeoisie by the end of the nineteenth century. While subsequent artists such as Max Liebermann, Isaac Israëls and Floris Arntzenius focused on moments of play, strolling or bathing, Achenbach paints a scenographically dense, almost mysterious picture of the Dutch coast.
His 1869 painting Scheveningen shows the fishing village with the prominent late-Gothic Oude Kerk (Old Church) nestled against a tall dune at night. The full moon and hazy clouds lend the scene a strange, almost ghostly atmosphere. A group of dark-clad people is sitting just outside the village in the middle ground; the reason for their meeting remains unclear. A woman in vividly fluttering clothes approaches them from the right; bending down, she is trying to brave the wind, while firmly leading her child by the hand and balancing a large basket on her head. Does the latter hold the catch of the day? This too remains unknown in the night of Scheveningen.