The present painting would seem to date to circa 1917 and appears to provide a mid-point between the war-influenced sea images, such as Ship on a Heavy Sea, and the more stylised The Blue Wave, well-known both in lithographic and painted form. It is one of a series of seascapes that Nevinson created during this period, recollecting his crossing of the English Channel on the way to the Front. The blue-green waves fill the field of vision and are such an ineluctable and eerie presence because their scale is so hard to read. The seasick rhythm of the waves implicated the viewer in the motion and their opacity hints at dangerous presences lurking below, out of sight and not of nature.
In Hiroshige's famous woodcut 'The Great Waves off Kanagawa' or the topography of the sea captured by the Romantic artists, the potency of the wave as an image results from its immensity and nature's boundless powers of life and death. In Nevinson's treatment of the theme, the impact lies in the fact that unadulterated nature is polluted by the threat of enemy mines and submarines beneath the waves
In the later war years Nevinson exhibited this series of marine subjects at both the Leicester Galleries and London Group exhibitions. It is likely that this painting was acquired directly from the artist by its first owner in 1924, whose family kept the painting until 1997. Stylistically there is a resemblance to the later paintings of Paul Nash. Nevinson's work would have been known to Nash, a fellow war artist, who began to paint seascapes around 1919, the best known examples being those painted at Dymchurch, Kent.