Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Nuenen, March 1885
oil on canvas,
42.7 cm x 33.5 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
In the winter of 1884-1885, Van Gogh made a large series of paintings in Nuenen (NL): studies of farm workers' heads. Peasant women in Brabant really did wear white headdresses in those days. These intrigued Van Gogh because of the contrast with their faces, which remained partly in shadow. 'The heads of these women here with the white caps — it’s difficult — but it’s so eternally beautiful', he wrote. At first glance, this woman's headdress looks white, but if you look more carefully you can see that Van Gogh used a variety of colours.
Out of all the study heads from Nuenen, this woman is the only one whose name is known: Gordina de Groot. She is also at the table in The Potato Eaters.