Vincent and the Loom

van Gogh's "Weaver Facing Left with Spinning Wheel"

Few would argue that Vincent van Gogh was one of the most influential artists in history. From Starry Night to still life paintings of sunflowers, many of his paintings are considered masterpieces.

Lesser known are his paintings and drawings of weaving For about a six month period in 1884, van Gogh focused his artistic endeavors on weavers at their work. Van Gogh admired weavers for their determination and skill, saying in 1883, “A weaver who has to direct and to interweave a great many little threads has no time to philosophize about it, but rather he is so absorbed in his work that he doesn't think but acts, and he feels how things must go more than he can explain it.”

Of course, as much as he admired their work, he was also greatly drawn to the aesthetics of weaving. In a letter to his brother Theo, van Gogh talks about these works saying, "Those looms will cost me a lot of hard work yet, but in reality they are such splendid things, all that old oakwork against a greyish wall, that I certainly believe it is a good thing that they are painted once in a while." He then went on to describe a weaver working by lamp as having “Rembrandtesque effects.”  
While these works, around 13 in total, make up a relatively small portion of the nearly 2,000 pieces of art he created, they help teach us a little more about the man, van Gogh, and what inspired him.


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