When Vincent got to Antwerp, he had to deposit his possessions temporarily at the royal customs house. He was able to retrieve them after a few days. The docks and quays would remain one of Vincent's favourite areas of the city to walk in. He wrote enthusiastically to his brother:
“Well, these docks are one huge Japonaiserie, fantastic, singular, strange — at least, one can see them like that. I’d like to walk with you there to find out whether we look at things the same way. One could do anything there, townscapes — figures of the most diverse character — the ships as the central subject with water and sky in delicate grey — but above all — Japonaiseries. I mean, the figures there are always in motion, one sees them in the most peculiar settings, everything fantastic, and interesting contrasts keep appearing of their own accord. A white horse in the mud, in a corner where heaps of merchandise lie covered with a tarpaulin — against the old, black, smoke-stained walls of the warehouse. Quite simple — but a Black and White effect.’’
Especially after taking long walks to farm villages on sandy moorland, Vincent found the sight of the docks to afford an “interesting contrast”.