Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, September 1889
oil on canvas,
43.6 cm x 29.5 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Van Gogh painted this woman shearing sheep ‘in a colour scale ranging from lilac to yellow’. He said so in a letter he wrote to his brother Theo from the psychiatric clinic in Saint-Rémy where he was an inmate. Vincent regained his self-confidence by copying works by other painters. He worked from black-and-white prints, copying the images fairly accurately but choosing the colours himself.
He based this painting on a small wood engraving. It was part of Travaux des champs (‘Work in the Fields’), a ten-part series of prints based on paintings by Jean-François Millet (1814-1875). Vincent wrote, ‘not having any models for the moment it will ensure […] that I don’t lose sight of the figure.’