It is perhaps unsurprising that this work came early in the artist's career, when he was still some way away from arriving upon the signature style for which he would become most famous. His Impressionist depictions of children playing by the sea would not appear until later, and in the early 1880s Sorolla was simply developing his technical abilities and taking on different challenges in order to do so. This seascape is undeniably a beautiful artwork, but one would not instantly see it as a Sorolla, were they not already aware. The composition in front of us features a wide variety of different vessels making their way across a fairly calm looking sea. Many may actually be moored up, in line with this being a harbour setting rather than out at sea. Sorolla him demonstrates his precise handling of sea, sky and boat architecture to produce a masterly work.
Those more knowledgeable on Spanish art over the centuries have claimed this piece to be related to the academic style found across this nation at around this time. Sorolla was clearly highly educated and trained artistically to an exceptional level, meaning he would be able to work in this way fairly naturally. It was perhaps later that his emotions started to take over and that he decided he wanted to build a career which was a little more unique in approach. Art history is full of examples such as this where it takes several decades before a creative individual really understands how they want to work for the mature period of their career, and up to that point are merely experimenting with different ideas whilst also developing their technical skills. Indeed, some even find the time to create several different approaches over a period of several decades, such as Picasso who worked effectively with Cubism before then moving on to new challenges.
Harbours have provided artists with excellent opportunities to capture some fine vessels at sea, but without having to go out to sea themselves. Seascapes have been a popular genre at different periods of art history, but less so today. One can remember Turner's Fighting Temeraire, in which a large vessel is slowly being dragged away on its last journey before being broken down into parts. That was a Romanticist artwork with bright colours and emotional content, where as Sorolla's effort is technically impressive but perhaps lacks the charm and energy of his later work. Despite that, we can still consider this to be an elegant artwork, which displays the academic teachings that lay behind the artist's early work, and was essential to how he went about his unique ideas later on.