Van Gogh in
The cemetery still exists and can be visited. It is unclear whether Vincent mentioned the cemetery in Hollandsche veld in his letter or the one in Pesse (Hoogeveenseweg 48, Pesse). The matter is disputed in the literature; see, for example, the book De Drentse tijd van Vincent van Gogh by Wout J. Dijk and Meent W. van der Sluis (2001).
Van Gogh in
While staying in Hoogeveen, Vincent visited a nearby cemetery and painted it. Churchyards were a subject he would return to several times in his life. He wrote to his brother about his trip there:
“Yesterday I came across one of the oddest churchyards I’ve ever seen — imagine a patch of heath with a hedge of small, closely planted pines around it — so that one would think that it was an ordinary little pine-wood. However, there’s an entrance — a short avenue and then one comes upon a number of graves overgrown with bent-grass and heather. Many of them marked with white posts bearing the names.[…] The colour there is quite singular. It’s a beautiful sight to see the real heather on the graves, the scent of turpentine has something mystical about it. The dark band of pines that encloses it separates a shimmering sky from the rough ground, which is generally a reddish colour — tawny — brownish — yellowish, but with lilac tints everywhere. It wasn’t easy to paint; I’ll carry on looking for other effects in it. In the snow, for example, it must be very singular.” Read the complete letter
Vincent sent his brother a sketch of the painting along with his letter of 16 September 1883. Unfortunately, the painting was lost.