Peasant Burning Weeds

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Peasant Burning Weeds by Vincent van Gogh
Peasant Burning Weeds
Oil on panel
30.5 × 39.5 cm (12 × 15.5 in)
Private collection
Painted October 1883, Nieuw-Amsterdam, Drenthe
F 20, JH 417

Vincent was working hard every day, keeping the same long hours as the local farmers and peat gatherers, working to perfect his ability to capture the spirit of the peasant class. His letters at this time frequently include small sketches relating to the finished painting. In one letter he tells Theo, "I’m still working on that weed burner, whom I’ve caught better than before in a painted study as far as the tone is concerned, so that it conveys more of the vastness of the plain and the gathering dusk, and the small fire with the wisp of smoke is the only point of light." The work captures well the effect he describes, and the sot of hard, dreary existence he was living at this time, much to the dismay of his family.
To Theo van Gogh, circa 22 October 1883

The letter drawing called Man Burning Weeds (F No Number Assigned, JH 419) is included below.

Man Burning Weeds drawing by Vincent van Gogh

C. Mouwen, Jr., Breda;
Sale Mouwen, Amsterdam (F. Muller) 3 May 1904;
Herman Gorter, Bussum (1905);
d'Audretsch Art Gallery, The Hague;
D. G. van Beuningen, Vierhouten;
Goudstikker Art Gallery, Amsterdam;
H. E. d'Audretsch, Amerongen (1941);
Tj. Bendien, Almelo (1941);
Christie's Auction, New York (12 May 1983)
Private collection.