Dordrecht comes from Thuredriht (c 1120), Thuredrecht (c 1200) meaning ‘thoroughfare’, a ship-canal or river through which ships were pulled by rope from one river to another, eg from the Dubbel to the Merwede, or vice versa. The Drecht is derived from ‘draeg’, which means to pull, tow or drag. Inhabitants of Dordrecht are Dordtenaren (singular: Dordtenaar). Dordrecht is informally called Dordt by its inhabitants. In earlier centuries, Dordrecht was a major trade port, well known to British merchants, and was called Dordt in English.
In this majestic painting, Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691) depicts the Maas, the busy inland waterway that connected his native Dordrect (visible on the right) to Rotterdam. Numerous vessels that ply its busy waters, from a merchant vessel in the distance to a small rowing boat in the left foreground but it is a large passenger ferry or ‘wijdschip’ on the right that dominates the composition. This ferry ran a regular service between Dordrecht and Rotterdam and was a subject that Cuyp depicted in several works.