We see the skyline of Dordrecht, identifiable by the grey bulk of the Grote Kerk (Great Church) and the outlines of two of its watergates. The crenellations of the Vuilpoort (demolished in 1864) are in the centre, the tower of the Groothoofdspoort (which still survives) is on the right.
The emphasis is not on the city, but on the agricultural economy which supports it. Our eye is led into the picture by a milkmaid balancing two full pails as she walks back to her farm. Three windmills or pumps – essential for grinding corn and preventing the meadows from flooding – dominate the middle ground. Just over the bank is a small cargo barge.
While infused with a warm sense of rural tranquillity, the picture also subtly underlines the effort and organisation required to maintain prosperity. It once bore a false signature of Aelbert Cuyp but is now thought to be by Willem van Drielenburgh, who specialised in landscapes with towns in the background.
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