Potato Eaters is an early painting from the career of Vincent van Gogh
Potato Eaters is a famous oil painting from Vincent Van Gogh and certainly the most famous of his early pieces which came at a time when his style was somewhat more sombre than what followed later on as he progressed his use of colours into what he became best known for. This painting offers a dark scene which depicts the hard times experienced by the Netherlands poor at that time. This website is entirely devoted to Van Gogh's Potato Eaters painting and offers great information on the painting itself as well as images of the original work for you to enjoy in your own time.
Potato Eaters has become highly respected in recent years for those who understand the importance of how the artist would cover the difficult lives of the poor who he had great compassion for. Potato Eaters Van Gogh covers a personal scene from within a small shack as peasants relax after another hard days work. The darkness helps to set a mood of sadness and desperation for those who were earning very little for their long hours and tiring manual work. Van Gogh spent many years working within this part of society so was able to easily tap into the difficulties that they were enduring.
Van Gogh was highly unusual in showing compassion for the poor of his country with so many artists at this time only concentrating on the rich and famous or alternatively covering scenes without any people at all, such as landscapes most commonly. Works such as Potato Eaters are very important to historians in discovering what life was like for those about who much less is typically known. Potato Eaters was created by artist Van Gogh in 1885 and Vincent was immediately very pleased with the painting and felt at the time that it was one of his best yet. Sadly, there was no great critical acclaim of it at the time and it was only after his death that academics and the art public have both accepted it and understood it's qualities which at the time were dismissed because of it's seemingly depressive look.
The original painting from Van Gogh measured 82cm by 114cm and is now stored at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The final painting took around 2-3 weeks to complete after the artist had produced several different study sketches to help him to prepare for the full oil painting which took in great amounts of detail as compared to the far simpler earlier sketches which only served as guides to layout and lighting. The Potato Eaters Painting represents the great hardship of the Netherlands poor at that time and shows Vincent as a man who was highly compassionate for their difficulties, as shown by the charity work which he carried prior to becoming a fully fledged artist. Potato Eaters shows the hands of tired people who have given all they had to their work and appreciated this short period to relax.
Potato Eaters was classed by it's creator as the best from this period of his career and Vincent was very sensitive to criticism about it which unfortunately was what he generally received after it's completion. At a time when bright impressionism was rising across Europe, few showed interest in a drab piece which was attempting to cover social ills of the Dutch peasant class. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is the excellent location where the original Potato Eaters can be seen as part of a huge collection which covers the whole life and career of this famous post-impressionist Dutchman. With so few of his paintings bought during his life, his family took ownership of most of his work and that can now be seen here, providing yet another good reason to visit the Dutch capital Amsterdam.
In line with several other major artworks, Potato Eaters was itself stolen recently from his location in Holland, as discussed. The original sketch was also taken in a separate theft but fortunately both have been recovered and no ransom was ever paid. Now they can both be enjoyed again all across the year through the permanent collections of their respective displayers.
List of Famous Van Gogh Paintings
Please see below for a summarised list of the most popular Van Gogh paintings which are searched for online, right across the world.
The Potato Eaters
Skull with Burning Cigarette
Cyprusses with Wheatfields
Wheatfield with Crows
Almond Branches in Blossom
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.