GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)

Weaver, Seen from the Front

July 1884, Nuenen
Oil on canvas on panel, 48 x 61 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Catalogue numbers: F 27, JH 503.

In Nuenen between January and August 1884, van Gogh depicted the figure of the weaver working at the loom in several pen drawings, watercolours and oil paintings. In this small village of Northern-Brabant, to where his parents moved in September 1882, more than four hundred people took up weaving, an activity of domestic industry during the winter months, when agricultural labour was suspended.

The chronology of the series could be determined by the development in representing the loom. As time went by, van Gogh depicted the loom with more and more precision, abandoning the anecdotal elements and concentrating on the work process and on the machine itself.

In the present version the machine depicted in a narrow, dark place is virtually imprisoning the weaver, the geometrical elements appear as prison bars. The worker's face is devoid of expression and his head appears to be shut in a guillotine. Whereas the artist's earlier weaver pictures were characterized by stronger colour contrasts, here the darker brownish tones play the leading role.