The Joy of Museums

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“Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh 127

“Sunflowers” painted by Vincent van Gogh, was painted in 1888 and is one of four paintings of sunflowers by Van Gogh in a series. This Sunflowers series was painted in Arles and was intended to decorate Gauguin’s room in the house that he rented in Arles in the South of France. He and Gauguin worked there together for three months.

In this painting, the flowers are built up with thick brushstrokes, the impasto technique evokes the texture of the seed-heads. Van Gogh wrote to his brother:

“I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly. I am now in the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers … it gives a singular effect.”

Sunflowers were symbolic of happiness for Van Gogh, and it was painted during a period of optimism when Van Gogh awaited the arrival of his hero, the avant-garde painter Paul Gauguin. The lonely painter had moved to Arles, where he dreamed of setting up a community of artists with Gauguin as its mentor.

Paul Gauguin - Vincent van Gogh painting sunflowers - Google Art Project

Paul Gauguin portrait of Vincent van Gogh in 1888. Called “The Painter of Sunflowers” can be seen at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

“Sunflowers” was the painting that Van Gogh was most proud of and it is one of Van Gogh’s most popular works and one of the most reproduced.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers
  • Deutsch:          Stilleben mit Sonnenblumen
  • Français :        Nature morte: Vase avec quatorze tournesols
  • Artist:              Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                1888
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions    92.1 cm × 73 cm (36.2 in × 28.7 in)
  • Museum:        The National Gallery, London

Artist Essential Facts:


“The best way to know God is to love many things.” Vincent van Gogh



Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Paul Gauguin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons