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

Head of a Peasant Woman with White Cap

November-January 1884-85, Nuenen
Oil on canvas, 42 x 33 cm
Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam

Catalogue numbers: F 156, JH 569.

In December 1884 van Gogh set himself the task of painting and drawing a large series of portraits of the peasants in Brabant. In this group of works he did not want to portray individuals but sought to characterize a type: the peasant. Rather than seeking beauty, he was looking for models that had rough, flat faces with low foreheads and thick lips.

The present bust-length portrait is a good example of the type of portraits van Gogh was envisioning. It shows a woman with heavy features dressed in a white cap and blue jacket typical for the peasant women of the time and region. Van Gogh appreciated the opportunity of painting the white caps of the women which he found difficult to do but extremely beautiful. Due to the change in the varnish of this painting, the originally strong blue jacket is discoloured.