With a large work featuring multiple figures, Vincent van Gogh hoped to prove himself to the outside world – after nearly two years as an artist, he felt the time had come. The subject, a peasant family eating their daily meal, was popular at the time. He had little experience of full-length portraits, so decided to paint the figures sitting down.
Vincent spent months practising painting heads, and The Potato Eaters was preceded by dozens of preparatory studies. He was pleased with the final work, but it drew severe criticism from his brother Theo and artist friend Anthon van Rappard.
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