An Old Woman of Arles Vincent van Gogh
Quayside with Ships in Antwerp Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh's is an attempt to breathe life intothe peasants' untamed expressions within the setting of their ownhomes. Their baseness, their feral nature, was crucial to thepicture's meaning, which is what Van Gogh was trying to convey when hedescribed the canvas as a . 'But ifpeople prefer to see them with a sugar coating, let them. I personallybelieve that it is better in the long run to paint them vulgar as theyare than to give them a conventional charm'.
The Night Cafe Vincent van Gogh
These features - thick lips, protruding cheekbones and low, flatforeheads - can be seen in all Van Gogh's portraits of peasants, aswell as in the figures of . Their mouths andcheekbones are exaggerated. The woman on the right in the painting andthe man on the left with the flat brow and protruding ears, are littlemore than grotesque caricatures. Other striking features are thewide-open eyes of the two figures on the left, both of whom alsoappear in Van Gogh's individual portraits of country peasants. Theenormous eyes were presumably intended to convey 'the extremes of theanimal eye; they are incapable of expression except for the occasionallook of surprise, devoid of intelligence. It is impossible to readinganything else in them; such eyes never betray a single thought'.