Monet was inspired by Etretat in the Caux region of Normandy, which he visited every year between 1883 and 1886. He had first come across the area in 1868 and was particularly drawn by how
picturesque it was - so much so that it resulted in more than 50 paintings.
The Stormy Sea in Étretat depicts a stormy sea on a winter day. The cliff that can be seen is that of Étretat (Seine Maritime), as Monet stayed in the city many times from the winter 1864-1865, and wrote: "I spend my time outdoors on the stone when it's big time [...] and of course I work all the time." Monet composed the painting in February 1883 from the window of the hotel he lived in then.
The illusion of movement on the sea is carefully created using separate brushstrokes, combined with vibrant colors. Monet was renowned for applying one color over another while the first was still wet.