Vincent made countless trips to Montmajour, a hill with an abbey on top a few kilometres northeast of the city centre. He discovered it two weeks after his arrival in Arles while exploring the surrounding countryside, and he expressed the desire to go there soon to paint. Vincent considered the hill beautiful, with its abbey and its view over the flat landscape:
“The appeal that these vast landscapes have for me is very intense. And so I’ve felt no annoyances in spite of some essentially annoying circumstances, the mistral and the mosquitoes. If a view makes one forget those little vexations, there must be something in it.”
Though Vincent evidently refused to be daunted by conditions on the hill, the stiff wind forced him to concentrate on drawing rather than painting: when he set up his easel, the canvas vibrated in the wind. The drawings Vincent did on Montmajour, mostly using a reed pen, are some of his best.