While staying in Hoogeveen, Vincent visited a nearby cemetery and painted it. Churchyards were a subject he would return to at various 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."
Vincent sent his brother a sketch of the painting with his letter of 16 September 1883. Unfortunately, the painting has been lost.