GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)
Peasant Woman by the FireplaceMarch-April 1885, Nuenen
Oil on canvas on panel, 29 x 40 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Catalogue numbers: F 158, JH 792.
Van Gogh showed, in several drawings and paintings, women absorbed in work in the solitude of their homes. Sewing, spooling thread, peeling potatoes, shelling beans and preparing food were among the most frequently depicted subjects. During the day, light shone into the dark rooms through the windows, whereas lamp- or firelight illuminated the models in the evening.
In the present painting the woman sitting to the right of the fire is peeling a potato. A kettle is boiling over the fire, hanging from a chain barely visible in the curling smoke.
Van Gogh's Nuenen interiors of peasant women engaged in their work convey a certain timelessness and reflect the influence of 17th-century Dutch genre painting.