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

Head of a Peasant Woman in a Green Shawl

March-May 1885, Nuenen
Oil on canvas, 33 x 46 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Catalogue numbers: F 161, JH 788.

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 painting shows a female model wearing a black garment that was traditionally worn when there was a death in the family. It was a long piece of fabric folded double and placed over the cap on the head. The creation of this painting is perhaps related to the death of van Gogh's father: he died unexpectedly on March 26, 1885.