Head of a Peasant Woman with White Cap, 1885 by Van Gogh

Head of a Peasant Woman with White Cap, 1885 by Vincent Van Gogh
Courtesy of www.VincentVanGogh.org

By the time of this painting Van Gogh was living in his parents' hometown of Nuenen, and had devoted himself to painting the local weavers and peasants. The preceding gears had been full of turmoil, including an unrequited love for his widowed cousin Kee Vos and a relationship with a seamstress and prostitute called Clasina Maria Hoornik (Sien) in The Hague. Apart from the scandalous liaison that temporarily alienated Van Gogh from his family, his time spent in The Hague during 1882 was important for him artistically, and marked the real beginning of his future artistic development.

In 1883 Van Gogh left The Hague and Sien and spent three months in Drenthe, before arriving at his parents' house in Nuenen. During the summer of 1884 Van Gogh had an ultimately disastrous affair with Margot Begemann, whose family bitterly opposed the union, Margot unsuccessfully attempted suicide and the relationship floundered. The local opinion of Van Gogh was irreparably damaged, and the following year when Peasant Woman was painted, he was falsely accused of a local peasant's illegitimate pregnancy and subsequently found it difficult procuring models to pose for him.