Well considering only the rich could read worth a damn it was the only way back then to communicate something. Plus a painting like this trancends the barrier of language too. They were the movies of the time in a way. It was a way of passing a larger message on to the masses.
I like the way you first look at the rising waves and simply see them, then you see the figures within. This would look great ona massive canvas hung on a museum wall where you have to take a step back to take it all in.
Art like this is what keeps me dabbling with paint brush and oils and acrylics