Van Gogh spent the last few months of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise, a small town just north of Paris, after he left an asylum at Saint-Rémy in May 1890. Tree Roots is considered by some to be his last painting before his
death late July 1890. The painting is an example of the double-square canvases that he employed in his last landscapes.
At first sight, this painting appears as a jumble of bright colors and wild abstract shapes. Powerful strokes and thickly applied paint mark the canvas. The subject only becomes apparent when you look more closely: tree roots, plants, leaves, with the brown and yellow of a sandy woodland floor under them. Van Gogh painted other scenes of trees and woods. He often cut off his compositions in an unusual fashion, often painting trees without their tops, or a piece of woodland showing only undergrowth and flowers - or, as here, only the roots of the trees.