Vincent regularly went out and about during his stay in Nuenen. He would have seen many windmills and watermills during these long walks, and he sketched or painted them. He also went there with his artist friends from Eindhoven, or with other friends who were visiting him for a few days.
These mills still exist and are now official Van Gogh monuments.
The windmills were used to grind grain.
The watermills are located on the Dutch section of the River Dommel. Some of them were built a thousand years ago. The power of the water and the millwheel have for centuries been used for grinding grain or pressing oil.
“ I’ve been working on a Water mill ... It’s the same sort of thing as the two other water mills that we visited together, but with two red roofs, and which one views square on from the front — with poplars around it. Will be magnificent in the autumn. ”Letter 448, Vincent Van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard