Head of a Man (c.1885; Nunen / Nuenen, Netherlands) by Vincent van Gogh

Head of a Man - Vincent van Gogh - c.1885

Artwork Information

TitleHead of a Man
ArtistVincent van Gogh
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationVan Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Location CreatedNunen / Nuenen, Netherlands
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About Head of a Man

In the quaint Dutch village of Nuenen, Vincent van Gogh embarked on a project to capture the essence of peasant life through his art. It was here, in 1885, that he created the “Head of a Man,” one of the many studies he conducted with the aim of painting at least 50 different heads to practice portraying peasant types. This endeavor began in October 1884, following the advice of an artist friend who encouraged him to refine his skill in figure painting.

The “Head of a Man” is a testament to van Gogh’s dedication to capturing the raw and unembellished character of the rural folk among whom he lived temporarily with his parents. The identity of the man depicted remains unknown, as van Gogh’s letters offer little insight into the models he chose for his studies. Nonetheless, this work stands as one of the last in the series, marking a significant period in van Gogh’s artistic journey during his Dutch period from 1881 to 1885.

This piece, along with others from the same period, reflects van Gogh’s deep interest in the lives and labors of the peasants, which culminated in his masterpiece “The Potato Eaters.” The “Head of a Man” is not just a portrait; it is a fragment of van Gogh’s larger narrative that sought to honor the authenticity of peasant life through his art.

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