Israëls was born in the Dutch city of Groningen. There he undertook some initial artistic training, before moving to Amsterdam and then on to Paris. In 1850, he travelled to Düsseldorf, but the area that exerted the most influence on Israëls proved to be the seaside towns along the Dutch North Sea coast. In 1871 he moved to The Hague, where he encountered many other artists and became a leading member of the ‘Hague School’ of painters. Israëls focused on both the harsh reality of life for the fisherman and their families, as well as their corresponding free, open-air existence. Successful in his time, Israëls’ influence on artists is believed to have been extensive, and the young Vincent van Gogh can be counted among his followers.