Upon his arrival in Auvers-sur-Oise, a small town northwest of Paris, in May 1890, Van Gogh composed a letter to his brother and sister-in-law: "Auvers is really beautiful—among other things many old thatched roofs, which are becoming rare. . . . It’s the heart of the countryside, distinctive and picturesque." The passages of unpainted canvas in the sky suggest that the artist was unable to finish this painting before he took his own life in late July 1890. In spring 1891, the work was included in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, listed with the title Village (Dernière esquisse). Esquisse, French for "sketch," indicates that the work was recognized at the time as either unfinished or as a preparatory stage for a final picture that was never realized.