Head of a peasant girl | Wilhelm Leibl | 1879
In 1873, Leibl decides to move to the Bavarian countryside, in south Germany. Courbet’s visit to Munich had caused a great impact on the artist, who also wanted to show reality as it was.
Away from the city, Leibl begin to relate with farmers in the area who began to trust him and let the artist portray them. Leibl’s paintings will show them working and developing their daily activities, apart from picturing landscapes of the area.
The artist had a particular talent: in addition to painting en plein air (it is, outdoors), he used to paint directly onto the canvas without any preliminary sketch or drawing. Over time, his technique evolved and his style became completely realistic, with an exquisite attention to detail.
Leibl spent almost the rest of his life in the countryside and portrayed the peasants with no intention of idealizing them, as many of his contemporaries sought. Head of peasant girl is an excellent example of his work. It is an unpretentious portrait. A woman, dressed in simple clothes, stares at her right with a frown. Her expression is hard, typical of a life without luxuries; and the stress in her mouth shows us that she is clearly upset for some reason.
What I like the most are the colors the artist used for the peasant in the portrait: from the pinkish cheeks, to the almost imperceptible blonde eyebrows, to the deep blue eyes; Leibl used colors so perfectly and yet so subtlety, that it seems that the woman is breathing right in front of us.