Van Gogh’s first major work, he wanted to depict peasants as they really were. He thus chose coarse and ugly models, so they would look as natural as possible in the final work. He made sketches of the work and sent them to his brother, who helped Van Gogh make adjustment in the composition. As far as two years after Van Gogh completed this painting, he considered it his finest work. This painting has also been a main target for art thieves, who have stolen it not once, but twice. An early version of the painting was stolen in 1988, but later returned with no ransom, and again in 1991, when it was abandoned by the thieves and recovered.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. These details include but are not limited to:
• The rafter boards in the back of the piece.
• The soft gentle lines forming a window in the darkness.
• The picture frame hung on a darkened wall.
• The large platter of potatoes, and the boney fingers stretched out to obtain them.
• The woman pouring a brew similar to coffee.
• The large rectangular column behind the table that seems to hold the building up.
• The weathered edges of the table.