Early Paintings by Vincent van Gogh

By: Debra N. Mancoff

The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters is an oil on canvas (32-1/4x45 inches) housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Vincent van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters is an oil oncanvas (32-1/4x45 inches) housed in theVan Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh painted The Potato Eaters in 1885. This early painting is representative of van Gogh’s attention to the relationship between color and his subjects.

After months of observing the local peasants' daily routines, van Gogh depicted a family gathered around the table for a modest dinner of the potatoes grown in their own garden. He chose his colors purposefully to connect his sitters with the earth that sustained them. The stark interior, their rough hands, and weather-beaten faces were the legacy of their life of labor. Neither sentimental nor romantic, The Potato Eaters expressed the compassionate sincerity of Vincent's aims in art.


Van Gogh continued his study of residents of the local farm community. The next painting further reflects his interest in them.

To learn more about art, famous artists, and art history, check out: