Beside the old church tower at Nuenen was a graveyard that Vincent liked to draw and paint. Several of his studies were unsuccessful, but he was satisfied with the painting The Old Church Tower at Nuenen; in June 1885, he sent the work to his brother Theo, who was living in Paris and showed Vincent's work to art connoisseurs there:
“I’ve left out some details — I wanted to say how this ruin shows that for centuries the peasants have been laid to rest there in the very fields that they grubbed up in life — I wanted to say how perfectly simply death and burial happen, coolly as the falling of an autumn leaf — no more than a bit of earth turned over — a little wooden cross. The fields around — where the grass of the churchyard ends, beyond the little wall, they make a last fine line against the horizon — like the horizon of a sea. And now this ruin says to me how a faith and religion mouldered away, although it was solidly founded — how, though, the life and death of the peasants is and will always be the same, springing up and withering regularly like the grass and the flowers that grow there in that churchyard.”
Vincent’s father died suddenly of a heart attack on 27 March 1885. He was buried in the cemetery on Monday 30 March.