Van Gogh painted this detached view of the village church, which was the place of his father’s spiritual ministry, for his parents, and he chose the Sunday churchgoing as his subject.
Vincent’s father had been parson of the Dutch Reformed church in Nuenen, whose congregation numbered about a hundred, since August 1882. In February 1884, while living in Nuenen, Vincent painted the church for his mother, who was in bed with a broken thigh bone. He probably worked on the painting again in the autumn of 1885, adding in the churchgoers; it is now known as Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen.
Vincent likely attended services in the church seldom or not at all, for he had turned his back on Christianity several years earlier and his relationship with his father was strained.