About this artwork

The woman's headdress frames her face, and stands out from the dark background of this small picture. It is one of a series of studies Van Gogh made in connection with a larger painting The Potato Eaters (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), completed in May 1885. Largely self-taught Van Gogh was inspired, in these early paintings of Dutch peasants, by the realism of Millet and Courbet. They are dark and sombre in mood, reflecting his models' harsh lives. He painted them while living with his parents in Nuenen, North Brabant.

A hidden Van Gogh self-portrait has recently been discovered on the back of this painting, covered by layers of glue and cardboard. The artist often re-used canvases and in this case, he worked on the reverse. It shows a bearded sitter in a brimmed hat with a neckerchief loosely tied at the throat.

Updated July 2022

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Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh