Vincent van Gogh : The Potato Eaters (1885)
There are things which we feel to be good and true, though in the cold light of reason and calculation many things remain incomprehensible and dark. And though the society in which we live considers such actions thoughtless, or reckless, or I don't know what else, what can we say if once the hidden forces of sympathy and love have been roused in us? And though it may be that we cannot argue against the reasoning sentiment and to act from impulse, one would almost conclude that some people have cauterized certain sensitive nerves within them, especially those which, combined, are called conscience. Well, I pity those people; in my opinion, they travel through life without compass..
What I think about my own work is that the painting of the peasants eating potatoes that I did in Nuenen is after all the best thing I did..
You see, I really have wanted to make it so that people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labour and — that they have thus honestly earned their food. I wanted it to give the idea of a wholly different way of life from ours — the so-called civilized people. So I certainly don’t want everyone just to admire it or approve of it without knowing why..
~ Vincent to Theo