Nuenen, July - September 1885 Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
chalk on paper,
55.7 cm x 41.0 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Van Gogh struggled for a long time to represent figures convincingly: they tended to look too flat. He realised in 1885 that he needed to build them up from large round forms rather than contours. This burly peasant woman is a successful example. The proportions may not be accurate, but this was deliberate: Van Gogh wanted to make the drawing more expressive.
In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent described his drawings of farm workers as 'the start of a whole series about all kinds of work in the fields'. He hoped that scenes of this kind would establish his reputation as an artist of peasant life.