Farmers Planting Potatoes

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Farmers Planting Potatoes by Vincent van Gogh
Farmers Planting Potatoes
Oil on canvas
66 × 149 cm (26 × 58.75 in)
Kröller-Müller Museum
Painted August - September 1884, Nuenen
F 41, JH 513

Vincent wrote excitedly to his brother Theo about the various paintings he was doing in the wheat fields during harvest, and the various types of worker he was capturing on canvas, as he respected and even idealized the hard working peasants. Getting out of the weaver's cottages and into the fields also allowed the work to have much more color and light. Perhaps Vincent's father was happy with this change of subject as he had told Theo he would prefer to see Vincent stop painting weavers and do a landscape for a change, as discussed in the listing for Weaver Near an Open Window (F 24, JH 500).

This work was one of six Vincent was painting in a deal with a local wealthy merchant, Anthonius (Antoon) Petrus Hermans. The man had initially wanted six painting of saints but Vincent convinced him to consider instead scenes of the local farmers performing different tasks in each of the seasons. Strangely Vincent was to paint these and Hermans was going to copy them himself onto his dining room walls as decorations, and Vincent would be allowed to keep the completed paintings. Right from the start Vincent had more expenses for paints and canvas than income from the job. He also began teaching Hermans and several other local people to paint, hoping eventually to have them pay him in paints so he could produce more work.

The four known paintings in the series are listed here.

Farmers Planting Potatoes (F 41, JH 513)
Potato Planting (F 172, JH 514)
Wood Gatherers in the Snow (F 43, JH 516)
Shepherd with a Flock of Sheep (F 42, JH 517)

There were also works showing a sower and a wheat harvest that are unknown.

Potato Planting
Peasants Planting Potatoes

Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam (1903);
L. C. Enthoven, Voorburg, Netherlands;
Sale Enthoven, Amsterdam (F. Muller) 18 May 1920;
Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands.