Head of Peasant Woman With White Cap

Van Gogh made a lot of studies of heads in Brabant, to prepare himself for figure painting in the near future. His subjects were the farmers and village people of Nuenen. He didn’t look at these paintings as portraits, but more as studies of different types of people. After about 40 studies of farmers’ heads, hands and bodies, he made his first big piece: The Potato Eaters.

Vincent had a special affection for peasants, in a letter to Theo he writes: “A peasant girl, in her patched and dusty blue skirt and bodice which have acquired the most delicate shades from the weather, wind, and sun, is better looking – in my opinion – than a lady. But if she dons a lady’s clothes, then her authenticity is gone. A peasant in his fustian clothes out in the fields [is] better looking than when he goes to church on Sunday in a kind of gentleman’s coat.”

Current Location: Foundation E.G. Buhlre, Zurich