A Van Gogh for the National Gallery

Vincent van Gogh
Head of a Peasant Woman, c. 1884-1885.
Oil on canvas - 40.3 x 30.5 cm.
London, The National Gallery
Photo : The National Gallery

2/1/14 - Acquisition - London, National Gallery - A young peasant woman has joined the collections at the National Gallery, in the form of a portrait by Vincent Van Gogh. It was acquired thanks to a new tax measure introduced in Great Britain in March 2013, in order to encourage persons owning art works of value to make donations, during their lifetime, to the nation. The Cultural Gifts Scheme [1] offers a tax reduction - on income or capital gains - of 30% of the estimated value of the object donated. Companies may also benefit from a tax reduction of 20% of the value of the object.

The National Gallery did not own any early works by Van Gogh before this, a gap that is now filled. The artist spent time in Nuenen between 1884 and 1885, capturing its most modest inhabitants, much like Millet, weavers in front of their loom, peasants in the fields or inside their homes. He produced studies in black chalk of figures at work but also busts painted in dark shades and impasto, somewhere between actual portraits and rough depictions, imbued with a degree of social statement. There are about forty of these likenesses often represented face-on, against a neutral background, with no idealization or sentimentality, a woman with a white bonnet, a man wearing a cap and smoking a pipe...The most famous work from this period is obviously The Potato Eaters (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum).

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, jeudi 2 janvier 2014


[1] This measure may be modified under the 2014 Finance Law.

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