This black and white chalk drawing on blue paper depicts a loosely sketched landscape featuring rock formations and small hills. The rocks in the foreground are highlighted in white chalk as is what appears to be a glimpse of sky in the upper right corner.
Painting depicts a solitary male figure standing along the shore. The thin layers of paint evoke a misty, overcast day with the figure standing perhaps on a tidal flat.
Whistler accompanied the Realist painter Gustave Courbet in a late summer painting campaign along the Normandy coast, in the resort town of Trouville. Although Whistler had embraced the tenets of Realism early in his career, by 1865 he had begun to evolve his own painting style that departed from the vigorous brushwork and heavy impasto of Courbet's example. This work, painted in the older artist's company, exhibits Whistler's characteristic thin veils of paint that evoke the atmosphere along the coastline rather than minutely describe it. The presence of the man implies no narrative story but is a precisely placed accent within the composition. Whistler's credo of "art for art's sake" has already shaped how he portrays a cloudy day at a summer retreat.