J.G. van Gelder and Ingrid Jost in their 1972 article pointed out that this drawing is a study for the central part of a panoramic picture of Dordrecht, Cuyp's native town. The large picture was cut in two after 1759. The left side of the panel is today in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the right side in the Museum der Bildenden Künst, Leipzig (S. Reiss, op. cit., nos. 29 and 30). A thin area between the two panels was lost owing to the division.
The terminus post quem for the picture is 1647 when an extension was added to the city of Dordrecht which is not visible on the drawing or picture (J.G. van Gelder and I. Jost, op. cit., p. 224-7). This dating is confirmed by Aert Schouman's (1710-1792) copy of complete the picture he drew in 1759 in which he dated the picture to 1647 (S. Reiss, op. cit., illustrated p. 60). The Grote Kerk, so prominent in Dordrecht views, is to the right in the Leipzig picture, just outside the area covered by the present drawing. Cuyp probably used another of his numerous views of Dordrecht, such as the one in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, or the one in the Stichting Collectie P.& N. de Boer (J.G. van Gelder, Aelbert Cuyp en zijn familie, exhib. cat. Dordrecht, 1977, no. 48 and 64) to complete the right side of the picture.
This drawing is one of a series of panaromas of Dutch cities drawn, according to J.G. van Gelder, between 1645 and 1652 (J.G. van Gelder, Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Drawings and Selected Prints from American Collections, Poughkeepsie, 1976, p. 64). The drawings in this group are executed on sheets of similar format, and with the same watermark, a Strasburg lily with the letters WR. J.G. van Gelder also pointed out that Cuyp often heightened the foreground of his drawings with gum arabic, in order to create a sense of distance.
The largest group of Cuyp's drawn panoramas is in the Rijksprentenkabinet of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and includes views of Dordrecht, The Hague, Leiden, Arnhem, Harderwijk and Rhenen. Other sheets are in the Teyler Museum (Haarlem: M.C. Plomp, The Dutch Drawings in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem, 1997, no. 102) and in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge (Rhenen: F.J. Duparc, Le Paysage en perspective, dessins de Rembrandt et de ses contemporains, exhib. cat., Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts and elsewhere, 1988, no. 22).
Michiel Plomp remarked in the Teyler museum catalogue that no secure preparatory drawings for these finished panaramas are known. J. G. van Gelder suggested that Cuyp drew the initial black chalk sketch outdoors and added the wash in his studio.