One of the most famous 19th-century marine and landscape painters, especially of Long Island, Mauritz De Haas was born in Rotterdam, Holland where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He also studied at The Hague, a pupil of Louis Meyer, and then specialized in watercolor in London.
In 1859, at the age of twenty seven he immigrated to the United States and set up a studio in New York. In his adopted homeland, he first became known for his European views and then for his scenes painted along the Northeast Coast. Among the latter were views of Long Island: Orient, Montauk, Peconic, Westhampton, Bridgehampton, and Southampton, as well as points along the Long Island Sound.
He painted Civil War naval scenes for Admiral Farragut. A brother, William Frederick De Haas, was also a distinguished artist.
De Haas felt a special affinity for Long Island because it resembled his native Holland in its terrain and ever-changing effects of light and atmosphere. He was determined to capture the full range of these effects, from bright sunshine reflected on the rippling waves of Long Island Sound to the cool moonlight shining on the beach at Southampton. According to one contemporary critic, he succeeded: “His pencil is equal facile whether portraying a storm on the coast, moonlight effects at sea, or brilliancy of the sunset hour.” In painting moonlight scenes, the same source claimed, de Haas had “few equals.”