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Potato Harvest with Two Figures

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Pen and brown ink over pencil, brown ink framing lines

Inscribed with the number and title on the verso: '5 Aardappeloogst'

6.2 x 14.4 cm.
Nuenen: early August, 1884
F 1141, JH 510

(Private collection)


See below

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Vincent van Gogh moved into his parents' home in Nuenen in late 1883. He was intent on refining his skills as an artist as he explored the Dutch countryside. Van Gogh was greatly drawn to the peasant workers in the region and, as a result, was influenced by another "peasant" painter, Jean-François Millet.

In 1884 Van Gogh met Anthonius (Antoon) Petrus Hermans, a retired goldsmith with a passion for art. Hermans wanted to commission a series of religious drawings from Van Gogh, but the artist had other ideas:

"I made this for someone in Eindhoven who wants to decorate a dining room. He wanted to do it with compositions of various saints. I suggested he consider whether 6 scenes from the peasant life of the Meijerij — at the same time symbolizing the 4 seasons — might not whet the appetites of the good folk who would have to sit at table there more than the above-mentioned mystical personages. Well, the man warmed to the idea after visiting the studio."

(Letter 453: c. 4 August 1884)

Hermans agreed to Van Gogh's suggestion for six drawings of which only four (F1141, F1142, F1143 and F1144) survive. Lost were the second drawing of a shepherd and a fourth drawing of a wheat harvest.

Although Antoon Hermans was quite wealthy (and retired at the age of fifty-seven), he and Van Gogh didn't have a satisfying conclusion to their business transaction. Van Gogh described Hermans as:

"tight-fisted rather than generous. Something very different from an actual miser, but all the same — I’m earning less (a whole lot less) than nothing."

(Letter 465: 9 October 1884)



Owner City Country Date acquired Comments Auction house City
Kunsthandel Oldenzeel Rotterdam Netherlands

Mrs. G. Smith-van Stolk Rotterdam Netherlands

Mr. and Mrs. J. van Hoey Smith Rockanje Netherlands

Rudolph Willem van Hoey Smith Rockanje Netherlands

Private collection
United Kingdom 1987

Auction: Sotheby's London United Kingdom 27 June 2000 Unsold.

Private collection

March, 2008
Day and Faber London


Year City Country Venue Exhibition Name Start Date End Date No.
1980-81 Amsterdam Netherlands Van Gogh Museum Vincent van Gogh in zijn Hollandse jaren (Vincent van Gogh in His Dutch Years) 13 December 1980 22 March 1981 136
1987-88 Den Bosch Netherlands Noordbrabants Museum Van Gogh in Brabant. Schilderijen en tekeningen uit Etten en Nuenen 2 November 1987 10 January 1988 23b

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