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Head of a Peasant Woman in a White Bonnet, 1885

Vincent van Gogh
Dutch, 1853-1890
Oil on canvas
18-1/2 x 13-3/4 in. (47.0 x 35.0 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Fueled by his revolutionary politics, Van Gogh set out to paint a series of fifty “Heads of the People” in 1882, drawing inspiration for these grave, frontal portraits from the German Renaissance masters Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein. He resumed work on the project in 1884 and 1885, while living with his parents in Nuenen, where he used his neighbors as models. Sien de Groot was one of them, and this portrait of her, probably painted in April 1885, doubled as a study for the artist’s most celebrated picture of the Nuenen period: The Potato Eaters (today in the Van Gogh Museum), portraying a humble repast in a peasant household.

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