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Cottages by Vincent van Gogh
Oil on canvas on cardboard
36 × 55.5 cm (14.25 × 21.75 in)
Van Gogh Museum
Painted October - November 1883, Nieuw-Amsterdam, Drenthe
F 17, JH 395

Vincent was inspired by the work of Jean-Fran├žois Millet and other artists who were painting peasants at the time, and began a series of works featuring the cottages and farmhouses they lived in. After his time in The Hague he spent about two months in Drenthe, living in a village called Nieuw-Amsterdam, and adopting the lifestyle of the locals. Always admiring the earthy lives and work ethic of the farmers, he spent much time in the fields, and kept the long hours of the peasants. Friends and family were a bit put off as his appearance and speech became more like the poor farmers, but Vincent saw this as paying a price to develop artistically. Even more than normal, in this period he lived a life of poverty, wandering the rural landscape.

This work shows a farmhouse and outbuildings at dusk, and he referred to it as simply a study. He was frustrated a bit in Drenthe as he wanted to do many more character studies of people and had difficulty finding anyone to sit for him. The cost of hiring a model was always prohibitive so he focused on the land and buildings.

This was surely a difficult time for Vincent as he was still hurting over the failure of his relationship with Sien Hoornik, an unwed mother and prostitute, living in poor conditions, and lonely. Soon enough he moved to live with his parents in Nuenen. He would continue to paint cottages but also would create a large number of portrait studies of people.


Mrs. J. van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam;
V. W. van Gogh, Laren;
Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam, Netherlands.