Vincent van Gogh

Head of a woman

Vincent van Gogh hoped to one day become a figure painter. He did endless studies of heads and painted countless peasant men and women. We'd like to tell you more about this painting: Head of a woman.

Van Gogh enjoyed painting peasants and farm labourers in the area around Nuenen; they were happy to sit for him in return for payment. The painter was particularly interested in models with characteristic facial features. Lived-in faces represented the tough peasant life of that period.

Colourful canvas

Interestingly, the Head of a woman is a relatively colourful canvas. The painting is one of the few head studies in which Van Gogh chose a light, coloured background. The contours of her face really stand out, and her hair sticks out jauntily from her bonnet. Clearly, the unnamed woman with her striking face appealed to him; he made a number of portraits of her.

Ambition

Head of a woman is part of an important series of head studies that Van Gogh did to practise figure painting. The canvas illustrates a key aspect of his early artistic output: the desire to become a good figure painter. Everything he learned from painting so many faces, he went on to apply in his masterpiece: The Potato Eaters.

At the museum

Het Noordbrabants Museum acquired Vincent van Gogh's painting Head of a woman in 2020. The purchase is in keeping with the museum's aim of maintaining an overview of Van Gogh's oeuvre in Brabant in his native province.

Practical information

Title
Head of a woman
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Date Feb-March 1885
Material Oil on canvas
Size 40,1 x 29,6 cm
Creditline Acquired with support from the VriendenLoterij, Het Noordbrabants Museum Fund, Coen Teulings, John & Patricia Groenewoud, and the JK Art Foundation

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