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' (Vincent 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, South Holland.