Soul and life

‘Those looms’, writes Van Gogh to his brother Theo, are ‘such almighty beautiful affairs’ that he feels it would be a good idea to paint them. He goes to great lengths to depict the construction of the loom in the correct proportions. But above all he wants to hear a ‘clatter’, ‘sigh’ or ‘lament’ come from the machine. In other words: he wants to give the loom a soul and life.

Spider in his web

In this Loom with weaver, the ‘black monster of begrimed oak with all its slats’ is depicted prominently, whereby the oak wood contrasts sharply with the grey-beige wall in the background. Van Gogh first paints the loom and then the rear wall of the interior. Finally, he places the weaver like a spider in his web in the imposing contraption.

Representative work

The canvas seems to fulfil Van Gogh’s expectations. Indeed, he has it photographed in a small, so-called ‘carte de visite’ format. He uses photographs such as these as a ‘means of establishing a few connections’ and bringing his work to the attention of others. Loom with weaver is therefore a representative work from this period.