In those days, women in Nuenen wear a white gauze cap, in combination with a dark under-cap to emphasize the pattern of the gauze.
Van Gogh is fascinated by this. ‘Then – the heads of these women here with the white caps – it’s difficult – but it’s so eternally beautiful. It’s precisely the chiaroscuro – the white and the part of the face in shadow, that has such a fine tone.’
A variety of brushstrokes
The face of the woman is painted with rather rough brushstrokes, side by side and overlapping. Her cap is actually quite detailed. The pleated edge is made up of short, parallel brushstrokes, the protruding cloth above it is accentuated with a quick, agile brushstroke. Prussian blue is incorporated into the cap and jacket, traces of red are visible on the cheeks and lips.
Gordina de Groot
The woman who posed for this portrait is the farmer’s wife Gordina de Groot. She is one of Van Gogh’s favourite models in Nuenen. He makes at least twenty studies of her. Gordina also poses for The potato eaters together with her family. She is the woman in the white cap on the left of the painting.