Peasants and their wives
In the summer of 1885, after completing The potato eaters, Van Gogh devotes himself earnestly to drawing peasants and their wives in Nuenen during harvest time, while reaping, binding wheat sheaves and gleaning.
He does have to pay his models, because the villagers are not eager to pose for him. ‘However, as the people are mostly very poor, and many weavers, in particular, have no work, I can still get it done.’ And so he is able to make a series of drawings of peasants at work during that summer.
Impression of the heavy work
With this series of drawings, 19 of which are in the possession of the Kröller-Müller Museum, Van Gogh aims to give an impression of the heavy work on the land. ‘And what I’m trying to get with it is to be able to draw not a hand but THE GESTURE, not a mathematically correct head but the overall expression. The sniffing of the wind when a digger looks up, say, or speaking. Life, in short.’