The flatness and broad, horizontal expansiveness of the Dutch landscape is punctuated by a lone sailboat. A gentle breeze blows to the right, agitating the rushes, and filling the sail of the boat. The vista opens to the right where a small peninsula of land, a house, and sensitively rendered architectural forms appear on the horizon.
To the left, a mass of bulrushes balances the composition. In this area, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn modeled the reeds using wash; to simulate nuances of sunlight and shadow, he left portions of the paper blank. The pen strokes are varied, changing from rapid, thin touches to broader strokes that emphasize the marshy area and sailboat.