Gauguin started painting relatively late in life. He had previously been a sailor and an agent for the Paris Stock Exchange. In 1871 he was urged by his friends to take up painting and drawing. He became increasingly interested in art and even bought a few impressionist paintings. He also spent a lot of time with Camille Pissarro, who gave him advice on his painting and encouraged him to participate in the exhibitions of the impressionists. By 1883, Gauguin had devoted himself entirely to painting. Two years later he left his family and went to life on his own in Paris. This painting was made in that year. He had already become dissatisfied with impressionism; Gauguin wanted his art to be more than a fleeting depiction of everyday reality. In a letter, he wrote about the inexplicable nature of emotions and moods, which the artist could interpret with the help of colour and line. Hence, The edge of the forest is not a realistic representation of a landscape, but of Gauguin’s inner experience thereof. The depictions and the colours have an introvert, dreamlike character. In that respect this painting is a precursor to his later work, in which the emotional value of the colour acquired a symbolic meaning.