GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)
Head of a Young Peasant with PipeNovember-February 1884-85, Nuenen
Oil on canvas, 38 x 30 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Catalogue numbers: F 164, JH 558.
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 models he depicted were shown in traditional dress, and the painter focused in particular on their heads, rarely introducing extra details. For the present portrait he chose a young man smoking a pipe. He is dressed in a blue jacket with his white shirt showing at the throat. The flesh colours of the face are brightened by touches of red on cheek and lips. Also the glowing bowl of the pipe adds a little liveliness to the otherwise dark picture.