Nuenen, April 1885 Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
oil on canvas,
43.2 cm x 30.0 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
This woman is Gordina de Groot, who posed with her family for The Potato Eaters. To prepare for that painting, Van Gogh made over 40 studies of farmworkers' heads, including this one. He hoped this would make him a better figure painter.
Van Gogh wanted to portray peasants as people of a special kind, who had been working the land for centuries. 'They remind one of the earth, sometimes appear to have been modelled out of it,' Vincent wrote to his brother Theo.
This work was a study in colour. Van Gogh concentrated on the complementary colours red and green.