Vincent van Gogh made this watercolor just over a year after beginning to work professionally as an artist.
In September 1883 Van Gogh left the bustling Dutch city of The Hague in search of open countryside in which to paint. He moved to Drenthe, a village in northeastern Netherlands that was virtually untouched by the Industrial Revolution. He described the barren terrain as supremely beautiful and serene: "What tranquility, what expanse, what calmness in this nature." With a limited palette of steely greens and cool blues, Van Gogh masterfully portrayed one of the region’s expanses of heath—"a vast plane vanishing into infinity"—illuminated by the lilac hues of the evening sky.
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