Higher vantage point

In July 1883, Van Gogh buys a field easel, ‘because one doesn’t get as dirty as when one works on one’s knees outdoors’. Moreover, he can now paint more easily from a somewhat higher vantage point, as can be seen in Edge of a wood. It is the first painting that Helene Kröller-Müller acquires of the painter she so admires.

Ordinary piece of cloth

Edge of a wood is painted on a fairly fine canvas, possibly an ordinary piece of cloth. At the beginning of September, Van Gogh writes to his brother Theo: ‘I bought a piece of cloth recently to make some study linen for myself, and now I’ve given it to her for vests’. By ‘her’ he refers to Sien Hoornik, with whom he is currently living. Perhaps he didn’t give Sien the whole piece and has already used a part to paint on.


In the initial layout, the path meanders between the trees on the left and the trunk of a second tree stands in the foreground on the left. Van Gogh then decides to remove this tree and straighten a section of the path. This makes the composition look more peaceful. Van Gogh is mainly concerned with the atmosphere; he believes that a landscape ‘expresses that moment and that place in nature where one can go alone, without company’.