Vincent van Gogh, The Potato Eaters, 1885
Produced four years after Van Gogh began to paint in earnest, The Potato Eaters is generally considered his first major work, though it’s a far cry from the furious brushwork and intense palettes of his most familiar paintings. Instead, this scene of poor farmers having dinner is dark, brooding and somewhat creepy, given the distorted features of the subjects. This may account for why Van Gogh’s brother, Theo—who was also his dealer—had difficulty selling the piece.
Where to see it: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Photograph: Courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam