barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

A Peasant Woman Digging

Nuenen, Holland, 1885

Oil on canvas, laid down on panel

42 x 32 cm


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)

Aelbert Cuyp (1620 – 1691)

Huntsmen Halted


Cornelis Dusart (1660-1704)

The Milk Seller



Monet, Manet and Magritte; Renoir, Rubens, Rossetti and Rodin; Degas, Delacroix and Van Dyck - as well as Botticelli, Poussin, Turner, Gainsborough, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Bellows and Auerbach...

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