While Francesco Guardi is best known today for his atmospheric views of Venice, he also worked in other genres and subjects. However, this depiction of a stormy sea is an unusual theme not only for him but also in the Venetian painting tradition. The open brushwork and sketchily defined forms enhance the dramatic immediacy of the scene, further intensified by the monumental scale of the waves and sharp keel of the ships against the open sky. The ships depicted are of seventeenth-century design. Guardi evidently looked to Dutch sources of the previous century, which were often accessible through prints.