Potato Planting

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Potato Planting by Vincent van Gogh
Potato Planting
Oil on canvas
70.5 × 170 cm (27.75 × 67 in)
Von der Heydt-Museum der Stadt Wuppertal
Painted September 1884, Nuenen
F 172, JH 514

While Vincent was painting weavers and people working in the fields it is perhaps also of interest to note what was happening in his personal life in the tumultuous year of 1884. In January his mother broke her leg and Vincent nursed her through her convalescence. In the spring he set up a studio in rented rooms and had several visits during the year from his artist friend Anthon van Rappard. But most important was another ill fated love affair with the neighbor's daughter, Margot Begemann. She loved him and he stated the same and proposed marriage despite a ten year age difference and the opposition of both sets of parents. The main concern was how the destitute Vincent intended to support a wife, and this disagreeable situation ended with Margot attempting to kill herself with poison, which distressed Vincent greatly and effectively ended the relationship.

Through all of the turmoil Vincent painted, and in the fall and winter he would turn his attention to a series of several dozen studies of peasant's heads.

Also, 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.

The Plower
Ploughman with Woman Planting Potatoes
Plowman and Potato Reaper

Paul Mulder, Nieuwer-Amstel, Netherlands (1905);
Sale Amsterdam (F. Muller) 29 April 1914;
E. V. F. Ahn, The Hague;
Sale Amsterdam (Mak van Waay) 16 September 1919;
J. S. Sala Art Gallery, The Hague;
E. Baron von der Heydt, Ascona;
Von der Heydt-Museum der Stadt Wuppertal, Wuppertal (Gift of E. Baron von der Heydt) 1952.