. . . . Yesterday I drew some decayed oak roots, so-called bog trunks (that is, oak trees which have perhaps been buried for a century under the bog, from which new peat had been formed; when digging the peat up, these bog trunks come to light).
These roots were lying in a pool, in black mud.
Some black ones were lying in the water, in which they were reflected, some bleached ones were lying on the black earth. A little white path ran past it all, behind that more peat, pitch–black. And a stormy sky over it all. That pool in the mud with those rotten roots was completely melancholy and dramatic, just like Ruysdael, just like Jules Dupré.
This is a scratch of the peat fields.
There are very often curious contrasts of black and white here, for instance, a canal with white sandy banks, across a pitch–black plain. In the above sketch you can see it too, black figures against a white sky, and in the foreground again a variation of black and white in the sand.
– Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (6 – 7 October, 1883)
black mud, black
which bleached black
white path past more
black sky, pool in the
mud, rotten root
just like, just like
black white, white pitch
black sketch, black white
Van Gogh’s Two Women in the Peat-Field, with a Wheelbarrow, painted after the observations referred to in van Gogh’s letter.