The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
This painting by the Dutch artist Hendrik Chabot shows a man asleep. Next to him there are a milk churn with a half-open lid and a piece of paper and he is lying down by a haystack. In the background there are more haystacks. The whole scene is painted in muted colours. Chabot has painted a clearly identifiable scene, but he does not represent it with the correct perspective. The farmer’s head has been painted much too small in relation to his body, while his hand is enormously large. Nor is the relationship of the different parts of the body to each other is in accordance with reality. Chabot shows the man as though he is lying on a flat surface, but he has also painted the semi-circular outlines of the haystack as though we are looking at it from the front rather than from above. He uses perspective as he likes and consequently he can fill virtually the whole surface of the painting with the farmer and still show some of the surrounding area. Chabot deliberately distorts reality to increase the powerful expression of the painting, which is a characteristic of Expressionism. The way in which he paints is also expressionist. He uses coarse brushes and puts the paint down onto the canvas in a viscous, almost stiff way. Chabot was particularly interested in everyday life. He wanted to depict the dignity, as well as the heavy burden of the simple peasant. In this respect his work corresponds with Flemish Expressionism. He painted with austere earthy tones and used the same sort of brushwork as Permeke and De Smet. In Permeke’s work the elementary forces of nature have central place, as well as their influence on mankind. Chabot was more concerned with human feelings. His emphasis was not so much on the tragedy of a hard existence but actually on the beauty of existence. His characters accept their life as it is and Chabot was moved by them. He depicted the farmer at the moment that he puts aside his everyday cares and surrenders to sleep.
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