A Peasant Woman Digging
Nuenen, Holland, 1885
Oil on canvas, laid down on panel
Van Gogh lived for two years at Nuenen in Holland painting peasant subjects.
In such works he uses a palette of drab earth colours far removed from the vibrant contrasting pigments of his later radical paintings. He wrote to his brother in July 1885 about a ‘woman … seen from the front, her head almost on the ground, digging carrots’. ‘I have been watching those peasant figures for more than a year and a half’, he added, ‘just to catch their character’. The artist was convinced that he got ‘better results by painting them in their roughness than by giving them a conventional charm’.
Purchased 1961 (No.61.8)