Colour and texture

Van Gogh receives his first painting lessons from Anton Mauve, his cousin by marriage. The successful artist of the Hague School has him mainly practice colour and texture in Still life with straw hat: the stiff, frayed straw of the hat, the transparent and shiny glass of the bottle, the clay pipe, the earthenware pot with wicker handles and the white cloth.


Van Gogh first laid down the outlines of the objects in broad, sketchy lines using charcoal. The underdrawing is still visible in several places. For this still life he used painting paper with a light-coloured, rolled ground layer, which results in a grainy structure. The paint is applied sparingly; only in the highlights and in the light colours is a little more paint used.

Beginning of the beginning

Still life with straw hat is Van Gogh’s second painting. Of course it is not yet a ‘masterpiece’, he writes to his brother Theo, ‘and yet I truly believe there’s something sound and real in them (…). And so I now consider myself to be at the beginning of the beginning of making something serious. And because I now have a few more technical resources at my disposal, namely paint and brush, all things are made new again, as it were’.