Weaver, 1884 by Vincent Van Gogh

Weaving had for centuries been an important cottage industry in Nuenen and was still an important local industry at the time Van Gogh moved there. This was not true of everywhere, though, and with advances in technology, cottage industries such as weaving were being transferred to the cities and to factories, resulting in the decrease of employment for weavers in the rural community. There was therefore a nostalgia attached to the 'rural weaver' whose long tradition was beginning to die out. When Van Gogh moved to Nuenen in December 1883 he almost immediately started to concentrate on depictions of the local weavers at work, and though he also pointed other subjects, this period was dominated by his images of men and women weaving. Unlike the distant treatment of his figures during his time in Drenthe, while in Nuenen he approached his figure studies with great detail and in close focus, and later worked on a series of peasant heads and hands. Interestingly his pictures of weavers at work, such as this, show the weaver as diminutive against the huge looms, dwarfed and almost obscured behind the great structures.