Atmospheric effects became a chief concern of the great Jan Porcellis (1584-1632), who revolutionized marine and beach painting. His shipwreck scene close to the beach, in the Mauritshuis, of 1631, is both a masterpiece and a milestone in the development of the burgeoning genre. Porcellis’ contribution was immediately acknowledged and adopted by the artist’s peers, in particular Jan van Goyen (1596-1656) and Willem de Vlieger (1600/01 - 1653). Beerstraten’s view on Egmond, which on account of the figures’ dress can be dated to the late 1640s, is strongly indebted to De Vlieger in its calm monumentality and spatial layout.
Beerstraten’s preserved oeuvre consists of paintings and drawings with dated works from 1642 to 1666, the year of his death. He probably started his career painting landscapes before focusing more and more on seascapes and harbour views from the early 1650s onwards. Beerstraten travelled extensively through the Netherlands, documenting his visits to the many towns in still-preserved drawings. He will certainly have visited Egmond, too.
Jan was the son of Abraham Danielsz from Emden. He married in Amsterdam Magdalena Bronckhorst, the daughter of an ebony worker, in 1642. From his first marriage he had eleven children, eight of which still alive at the time of their mother's death, among whom Abraham (born 1643 or early 1644) and Johannes (baptized 8 August 1652) also became painters. Jan remarried shortly after his first wife died in 1665 but he himself died the next summer. Jan lived all his life in Amsterdam, first in the Elandstraat but after he married, he moved to a house near the Haarlemmerpoort, where he had a shop sign hung out with the name ‘De schipbreuk’ (The shipwreck). In 1651 he bought a house opposite the Nieuwe Doolhof on Rozengracht and here hung that same sign. An inventory of his estate drawn up after his death includes painting by fellow painters such as Jan Porcellis, Jan van der Heyden, Philips Wouwerman and Pieter de Hooch.