The Potato Eaters, completed in 1885, is considered by many to be Van Gogh’s first great work of art. At the time of its creation, Van Gogh had only recently started painting and had not yet mastered the techniques that would later make him famous. This could attribute to the interesting look of the piece as well as the overall feeling produced from the painting.
Van Gogh wished to create his first masterpiece that could boost his reputation as a developed artist; his goal was to paint human figures that did not appear to be awkward, but rather existing naturally. Portraying the figures in a dark room with light from an oil lamp, however, proved to be a bit too extreme for his newly acquired artistic skills. The outcome of all of these factors, in turn, made the painting more appreciated in the art community then if Van Gogh had succeeded in his original task.
The painting that was completed consisted of 5 figures sitting around a square table eating potatoes; four of them are females and one male. Although the piece is laced in darkness, the mixed emotions residing in the faces of the occupants shine out brightly. These figures are so intense that one can nearly hear the conversations being spoken around the table. Perhaps this vibrancy layered with the darkness is what draws one closer to examine the smaller details of the painting.