Drawn studies of trees

In July 1889, Van Gogh suffers a mental breakdown again. He does not venture outside for two months for fear of having another attack. Only in October does he find the courage to work outdoors. He has asked his brother to send canvas and paint. While waiting for that to arrive, he spends his time drawing studies of trees.

Composition and autumnal colours

When he receives the delivery of paint in early November, he decides to depict the characteristic large pine trees in the garden in colour too. This painting seems primarily intended as an exercise in composition and autumnal colours. The towering, abruptly cropped trees provide a vertical contrast against the undulating path, painted with diagonal brushstrokes.


The figure in blue in the centre of the picture, sitting on a low wall, attracts the attention. It almost seems to pose for the painter, leaning calmly against one of the tree trunks. In the background, what is presumably the wall of the men’s dormitory at the asylum is depicted with vertical brushstrokes in sand-coloured paint.