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Vincent van Gogh, Head of a Peasant Woman

Key facts
Full title Head of a Peasant Woman
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Artist dates 1853 - 1890
Date made about 1884
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 40.3 × 30.5 cm
Acquisition credit Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government and allocated to The National Gallery, 2013
Inventory number NG6648
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Head of a Peasant Woman
Vincent van Gogh

In late 1883 Van Gogh moved to the town of Nuenen in North Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands. His arrival there marked the beginning of a highly productive period that was to culminate in his first major painting, The Potato Eaters of 1885 (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).

This picture belongs to a group of around 40 peasant portraits that Van Gogh painted directly from life in Nuenen during the winter of 1884–5. All the portraits show the head from the shoulders up, either frontal or in profile, set against a dark background, and all the sitters are wearing their working clothes. Depicted here is a young woman with large dark eyes and an evenly lit face that is broad and open. Although she has strong features, the outlines of her face are rounded rather than angular, and her expression is wistful, even sad. More than just a stock type, she is perhaps an individual with whom Van Gogh felt some rapport.

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