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Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)

Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier), August 1888

Vincent van Gogh
Dutch, 1853-1890
Oil on canvas
25-1/4 x 21-1/2 in. (64.1 x 54.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Sunburnt and weather-beaten, the Provençal peasant Patience Escalier gazes out of Van Gogh’s picture with blazing intensity. Dazzling yellow, vivid blue, green, and red make this portrait, painted in August 1888, perhaps the artist’s most daring coloristic experiment to date. “[I]nstead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes,” he wrote to his brother, Theo, “I use color more arbitrarily, in order to express myself with force.” He called the picture “a sort of ‘man with a hoe,’” referring to a celebrated work by the previous generation’s great painter of peasants, Jean-François Millet: Man with a Hoe, today in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

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