Embarking on art studies abroad was the culmination of a long struggle for Jóhannes Sveinsson. Late in the winter of 1911 he sailed to London, at the age of 26, with the intention of seeking art training. He did not gain admission there, but used the time to study independently; he learned about art in the museums and galleries of the metropolis and imbibed new influences. The Sterling in Fog is one of the pieces Kjarval painted in London. Ships and seascapes had from the beginning been some of his most important subjects – he had been a fisherman on schooners before he travelled abroad. When this little painting is compared with his earlier work, it is apparent that London opened new worlds for him. Instead of painting the ship in detail with all its rigging, as in his paintings of schooners, he now dissolves his subject into an evocative misty haze . This change can be attributed to influence from the British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) who is known for works where the subject dissolves in hazy fog or smoke.