Jørgen Hansen Koch. Letter to Johan Christian Dahl. May 28, 1830 [Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Bang 1987, vol. 2, p. 204 under no. 605], states his wish to purchase a small painting as a gift for his wife, to cost no more than 30 to 40 Species, and to be picked up from the artist by Koch's sister-in-law.
Johan Christian Dahl. Diary entry. June 12, 1830 [Universitetsbiblioteket, Oslo, Ms. 1001, 8°; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Bang 1987, vol. 2, p. 213 under no. 641], notes receipt and content of Koch's letter dated May 28, 1830.
Johan Christian Dahl. Letter to Jørgen Hansen Koch. October 8, 1830 [Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Bang 1987, vol. 2, p. 204 under no. 605, p. 213 under no. 641], proposes selling two smaller paintings to Koch for 40 Species (for both, including frames), to be paid to the artist's friend Cancelliraad Thomsen; describes the subject of this picture as "a coast in moonlight where a woman and her child are waiting for an approaching boat bearing a close relation"; states that both paintings will be sent in a few days.
Jørgen Hansen Koch. Letter to Johan Christian Dahl. December 14, 1830 [Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Bang 1987, vol. 2, p. 204 under no. 605, p. 213 under no. 641], states that the pictures have arrived, that the sum has been paid, and that he and his wife are pleased with both paintings.
Johan Christian Dahl. Einnahmen für die Jahre 1824–1855. December 29, 1830 [Universitetsbiblioteket, Oslo, Ms. Fol. 1882k; excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Bang 1987, vol. 2, p. 204 under no. 605, p. 213 under no. 641], notes in his account book that "Via Thomsen received from Justidsraad [Counsellor] Koch in Copenhagen for two pictures – 60 rd.".
Carl Reitzel. Fortegnelse over Danske Kunstneres Arbejder paa de ved det Kgl. Akademi for de Skjønne Kunster i Aarene 1807–1882 afholdte Charlottenborg-Udstillinger. Copenhagen, 1883, p. 107, lists it under Exh. Copenhagen 1831 as "Maaneskinsstykke," with J. H. Koch as owner and P. Koch as the "assessor" [see Ref. Bang 1987].
Marie Lødrup Bang. Johan Christian Dahl, 1788-1857: Life and Works. Oslo, 1987, vol. 1, pp. 82, 171, 202 n. 38; vol. 2, pp. 204, 213, 280, 376, no. 641; vol. 3, pl. 641, identifies this picture as probably the pendant described on the verso of an "afterdrawing" of the painting "Autumn Landscape near Dresden" (1829; private collection, Dresden; Bang no. 605) [see Ex-Colls]; lists two related drawings (1826 and 1827; both Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo), one of an anchor and the other of a woman and child on a beach; compares it to Friedrich's coastal landscapes, notably "Evening on the Baltic" (1826; Georg Schäfer Museum, Schweinfurt), based on another Dahl drawing of an anchor; mentions a variant of this picture (Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham; Bang no. 915) and an unsigned replica (private collection, Munich), possibly a student copy.
Suzanne Ludvigsen. Danish Paintings of the Golden Age. Exh. cat., Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. New York, 1999, unpaginated, no. 16, ill. (color).
Sabine Rewald. Caspar David Friedrich: Moonwatchers. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2001, p. 50, no. 14, ill. (color), reproduces the studies for this picture.
Richard Verdi. "A Rediscovered 'Moonlight' by Johan Christian Dahl." Burlington Magazine 147 (February 2005), pp. 115–16, fig. 52, notes that the returning boat is presumably that of the child's father, adding "since Dahl's father was himself a fisherman, this lends an unmistakably autobiographical note to the scene and makes it an unusually personal work in the artist's career."
Paul Spencer-Longhurst. Moonrise over Europe: JC Dahl and Romantic Landscape. Exh. cat., Birmingham Barber Institute of Fine Arts. London, 2006, pp. 41–43, 64, 66, 72, 74, 78, fig. 21 (color), suggests that the death of Dahl's two children in 1829 and his wife's pregnancy in 1830 inform the anecdotal nature of this picture with an element of pathos.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2006–2007." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Fall 2007), p. 39, ill. (color).
Esther Bell. "Catalogue Raisonné of the Thaw Collection." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection. New York, 2011, p. 114, no. 37, ill. (color), calls it "Mother and Child by the Sea".