In April 1917, Sir John Lavery and his wife stayed at the Grand Hotel d'Angleterre at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, north of the Spanish border, while making the hazardous journey in wartime Europe to Tangier. Lavery painted at least five views of the harbour there, including the present work, logging the movements of the Norwegian cargo boats that found a safe haven in the bay. All were painted from the same location at different times of the day, with subtle variations in light and perspective. They bear comparisions with Lavery's many coastal scenes at Tangier, although here the paintings 'bear the shrill solid blues and greens of the cote de l'Atlantique'
(Kenneth McConkey, John Lavery
, Atelier Books, 2010, p.133).
The same year Lavery was appointed an Official War Artist, and his works of this period depicting military camps, naval bases and munitions factories offer an important historical record into the war effort, and are a fascinating diversion within his career as a highly successful portrait painter.