Jan van der Heyden was one of the first Dutch painters, and perhaps the greatest, to specialize in painting townscapes. His principal subjects were Amsterdam and towns in the region near the Dutch-German border, which he visited for business and recreation.
Besides town views he also painted village streets, some forty landscapes and several views of country estates and houses, likely commissioned to glorify the rural life enjoyed by the wealthy merchantmen and noblemen living in the city. Favourite areas for Amsterdam merchants were the Beemster and the river Vecht, the latter being the painting's title of the 1925 sale. However, an exact topographical location cannot be found and the present painting, like many of Van der Heyden's townscapes, is probably only loosely based on an actual view, topographical accuracy being the least of his concerns, despite his naturalistic style.
Van der Heyden is also remembered as an inventor and engineer: he designed, amongst other things, a comprehensive street-lighting scheme for Amsterdam and a fire-engine fitted with pump-driven horses, and much of his independent wealth derived from that aspect of his career. Painting, by contrast, was almost a secondary interest, although one that he maintained throughout his life.