This painting from February/March 1885, with its restricted palette of dark tones, coarse facture, and blocky drawing, is typical of the works Van Gogh painted in Nuenen the year before he left Holland for France. His peasant studies of 1885 culminated in his first important painting, The Potato Eaters (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
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Title:The Potato Peeler (reverse: Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat)
Artist:Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:16 x 12 1/2 in. (40.6 x 31.8 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967
Recent studies of Van Gogh’s canvas supports, undertaken by the Thread Count Automation Project in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, have used thread count and weave pattern to identify canvases cut from the same bolt. Analysis of the canvas of Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (reverse: The Potato Peeler) shows that it comes from the same bolt as seven other paintings by the artist, dating from 1885 to 1887, and that the canvases of two of these paintings are weft matches.
Charlotte Hale 2019
 See D.H. Johnson, C.R. Johnson, Jr., and E. Hendriks, “Automated thread counting” and E. Hendriks et al., "Automated Thread Counting and the Studio Practice Project," Van Gogh's Studio Practice, edited by M. Vellekoop, M. Geldof, E. Hendriks, L. Jansen, and A. de Tagle, Brussels, 2013, pp. 142–81.
 The report, dated August 2011, on the automated thread counting of Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (reverse: The Potato Peeler) was prepared by Don H. Johnson, J.S. Abercrombie Professor Emeritus, Rice University, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, of The Thread Count Automation Project; Don H. Johnson, The Thread Count Automation Project, “Counting Van Gogh; Thread Count Reports List," February 2019. Department of Paintings Conservation records, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
private collection, Asnières (possibly comtesse Clara Levaillant de La Boissière and her daughter Eugénie Jeanne Levaillant de La Boissière, Asnières, later elsewhere), gift of the artist ca. 1887–88; sold by 1927, reportedly through an intermediary, to Charpentier; [Galerie Charpentier, Paris, until 1927; sold through Bogdanoff to Bammann]; [Galerie Hans Bammann, Düsseldorf, from 1927; cat., 1927, ill.; consigned in January 1928 to Thannhauser; sold by 1929 to Thannhauser, half share with Richard Lohe, Sonnborn]; [Justin K. Thannhauser, Berlin and New York, by 1929; half share with Richard Lohe, Sonnborn]; [probably Richard Lohe, Sonnborn, by July–August 1930]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1936–d. 1967; on loan to The Met, 1936)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic," October 30, 1973–January 6, 1974, no. 1a.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh: The Drawings," October 12–December 31, 2005, not in catalogue.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [on or about May 20, 1888] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. nos. b529 a-c V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 489; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 611], mentions four small paintings that he has given or is planning to give to the comtesse de La Boissière, possibly including this picture.
Alte Meister: Deutsche und Französische Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts. Düsseldorf, 1927, unpaginated, as "Kartoffelschälerin"; mentions it as on the back of the self-portrait with a straw hat (The Met, 67.187.70a).
J.-B. de La Faille. "Unbekannte Bilder von Vincent van Gogh." Der Cicerone 19 (February 1927), pp. 101–2, ill., states that it is at the Kunsthandlung Hans Bammann, Düsseldorf.
J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, pp. 102–3, no. 365 verso; vol. 2, pl. C , states that it was in a private collection, Russia, before going to the Hans Bammann Gallery in Düsseldorf.
Ludwig Thormaelen. Letter to Hans Bammann. April 6, 1932 [see Ref. Dorn and Feilchenfeldt 1993], writes that there is no evidence against the attribution to Van Gogh.
M. O. "Liebermann und Justi: Wieder eine van-Gogh-Affäre." Vossische Zeitung no. 127, evening ed. (March 15, 1932), unpaginated, states that the Nationalgalerie Berlin had the opportunity to purchase six paintings by Van Gogh before World War I for the relatively modest sum of 25,000 marks but passed on the chance because of Wilhelm II's objections (see Koldehoff 2017).
Harry B. Wehle. "A Loan of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (October 1936), p. 209.
Walther Vanbeselaere. De Hollandsche Periode (1880–1885) in het Werk van Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). Antwerp, 1937, p. 362, states that the model is the same woman seated at the right in "The Potato Eaters" (F77; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, , pp. 89, 559, 579, 587, no. 87, ill., dates it to the Nuenen period.
Harry B. Wehle. "The de Groot Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (June 1948), p. 269.
J. G. van Gelder. De Aardappeleters van Vincent van Gogh. Amsterdam, 1949, p. 9, calls it a study for "The Potato Eaters" in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (F78).
Vincent van Gogh. The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh with Reproductions of All the Drawings in the Correspondence. Greenwich, Conn., 1958, under letter no. 489 (possibly this work).
Fritz Erpel. Die Selbstbildnisse Vincent van Goghs. Berlin, 1963, p. 55, under no. 15 [English ed., "Van Gogh: The Self-Portraits," trans. Doris Edwards, Greenwich, Conn., , p. 56, under no. 15].
Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh e i suoi nessi grafici. Vol. 1, Da Etten a Parigi. repr. [1st ed., 1966]. Milan, 1977, pp. 100, 119, no. 119, ill., dates it February–March 1885 and calls it a study for "The Potato Eaters" (F77; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 106, 170, 625, no. F365 recto, ill., dates it February–March 1885; substitutes the Charpentier Art Gallery, Paris, for the unknown Russian collector formerly included in the early provenance of the picture [see La Faille 1928], since this individual acted for the Charpentier Gallery.
John Walsh Jr. Portrait of the Artist. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1972, p. 16, under no. 27, mentions it as a study for "The Potato Eaters".
Matthias Arnold. "Duktus und Bildform bei Vincent van Gogh." PhD diss., Ruprecht-Karl University, Heidelberg, 1973, p. 192 n. 334.
Anthony M. Clark inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 86, ill.
Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 145, 150, 304, no. 654, ill., dates it to February 1885 on the basis of a passage in one of Van Gogh's letters (no. 395).
Glenn Collins. "Is It or Isn't It? A Van Gogh Languishes in Limbo." New York Times (July 8, 1990), p. H31, ill.
Roland Dorn and Walter Feilchenfeldt in "Genuine or Fake?—On the History and Problems of Van Gogh Connoisseurship." The Mythology of Vincent van Gogh. Ed. Kodera Tsukasa. English ed. Tokyo, 1993, p. 296.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 494, ill.
Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 144, 152, 304, no. 654, ill. p. 145.
Martin Bailey. "Cent Van Gogh remis en question." Journal des arts no. 39 (May 30, 1997), p. 25, discusses Feilchenfeldt's doubts concerning the authenticity of both sides of the painting, as well as Stein's defense of the work on stylistic grounds and her argument that the double-sided format is evidence for its authenticity.
Martin Bailey. "At Least Forty-five Van Goghs May Well be Fakes." Art Newspaper 8 (July–August 1997), p. 23.
Sjraar van Heugten. Vincent van Gogh, Drawings. Vol. 2, Nuenen, 1883–1885. Amsterdam, 1997, p. 164, includes it in a series of drawings and paintings depicting women at work in the home, which he dates to March–April 1885 and which culminated in "The Potato Eaters".
Louis van Tilborgh inVincent van Gogh Paintings. Vol. 1, Dutch Period 1881–1885, Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 1999, p. 13 n. 43, pp. 14, 238.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 168, 255, ill.
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 4, pp. 86–87 n. 3, under letter no. 611, identify it as possibly one of the four small paintings that Van Gogh mentions giving to the Countess de la Boissière.
Louis van Tilborgh in Ella Hendriks et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Vol. 2, Antwerp & Paris, 1885–1888: Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2011, p. 24 n. 20, tentatively includes this two-sided work in the group of five small paintings given to the comtesse de la Boissière.
Ella Hendriks et al. "Van Gogh's Recycled Works." Van Gogh's Studio Practice. Ed. Marije Vellekoop et al. Brussels, 2013, pp. 315, 320, 329 table 2.
Stefan Koldehoff. Ich und van Gogh: Bilder, Sammler und ihre abenteuerlichen Geschichten. Berlin, 2015, p. 144, discusses de Groot's purchase and loan of the painting to the MMA, as well as its subsequent transition into the Museum's collection.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 447, under no. 397.
Stefan Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, pp. 67, 69, 78, fig. 51 (reproduction of La Faille 1927).
Megan Fontanella and Lena Stringari inThannhauser Collection: French Modernism at the Guggenheim. Ed. Megan Fontanella. New York, 2018, pp. 243, 317 n. 11; p. 318 n. 18, notes that the inability to find early records documenting the work may have been precisely because the artist gifted or otherwise disposed of it in his lifetime.
Karen Serres inVan Gogh Self-Portraits. Ed. Karen Serres. Exh. cat., Courtauld Gallery. London, 2022, pp. 96, 138 n. 13, p. 144.
Van Gogh painted The Potato Peeler at Nuenen, The Netherlands, in February–March 1885. Later, in Paris, probably in 1887, he turned the canvas over and painted Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat on the other side.
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