In Jan van Goyen's world, the sky goes on forever, the land is broad and flat, and the air is almost palpable. The water, nearly glass-smooth, reflects clouds, castle and boats gliding across it. A coach-and-four with red-coated coachman and passengers skates across on a ferry, lobster fishermen draw up their net, and cows complacently drink in the tranquility. A restrained palette of blue, silvery gray, and pale green envelops the castle of Wijk, making it seem more a fairy-tale place than an actual building near Duurstede, a town southeast of Utrecht where the Rhine forks.
Van Goyen consistently showed skill in rendering nearly monochrome landscapes and recording the subtly shifting tonal effects of the moist Dutch air. This painting exemplifies a new phase of Dutch landscape painting established about 1630, which was distinguished by modest, domestic subject matter, a low vantage point, and a palette limited in color but richly varied in tone.