A marsh - by Vincent van Gogh

The country setting of the village was an invitation for him to make his first landscapes, a genre in which he was to excel in his later French work. These earliest explorations show his natural genius for finding simple but convincing subjects, portrayed in refined compositions. A pen-and-ink drawing of a marsh is an eloquent example of this painting, A Marsh.

One discovers, in even such early, halting landscape drawings, traits that characterize Van Gogh's latest, spontaneously cursive ones. His impulse appears to have been to blanket a sheet with marks, but to do so strictly within its limits, a keen awareness of the paper's edges holding penwork within bounds, like a charged fence. However, at this stage, the sum of his strokes represented little more than its many parts: merely a map of someplace, with no particular point given to go there.