Although Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was occasionally utterly bored with the heaths of Drenthe, most of the time he was very impressed by this area, which he first saw in the autumn of 1883: ‘Drenthe is so beautiful, it overwhelms me.’ This painting, created in one sitting with swift brush strokes, awakened Van Gogh’ artistic self-awareness. Thus it was in Drenthe that he made a firm resolution to become an artist. In this painting, Van Gogh shows the direction he wants to take. Inspired by Jean-François Millet, he wants to paint rural life, showing ordinary country folk in their struggle to survive. The Peat Barge is one of the seven surviving pictures of his Drenthe period.