As a young artist living in a small town in the Dutch countryside, Vincent van Gogh devoted himself to depicting his surroundings. “I’ve become so absorbed in peasant life...” he wrote to his brother, "I really hardly ever think of anything else.” The fruit of Van Gogh’s absorption was The Potato Eaters, a painting of a family of farmers seated around a table sharing a meal. Worked up over months of sketching and preparation, this was his most ambitious painting to date, and a demonstration of his commitment to depicting country life without sentimentality.
This installation brings together a seldom-seen sketch of The Potato Eaters with other scenes of rural life and labor by Van Gogh’s heroes and contemporaries. In a period when forces such as industrial development and urban migration were reshaping the rhythms of the European countryside, a range of artists committed themselves to capturing time-honored ways of life.
Laurel Garber, The Park Family Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings
Tara Contractor, Assistant Curator of European Painting and Sculpture