This painting titled “Sunflowers” painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888 is one of four paintings of sunflowers by Van Gogh dating from August and September 1888.
Sunflowers are the subject of two series of still life paintings by Van Gogh. The first series was painted in Paris in 1887 and depicted the flowers lying on the ground. The second set in the Sunflowers series was painted a year later in Arles, 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 in the last three months of 1888.
In this painting, the dying flowers are built up with thick brushstrokes called impasto. 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 on the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers … it gives a singular effect.”
Sunflowers were symbols of happiness for Van Gogh, and it was painted during a period of excited 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 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 “Sunflowers” is one of Van Gogh’s most popular works and one of the most reproduced.
- Title: Sunflowers
- 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:
- Name: Vincent Willem van Gogh
- Born: 1853 – Zundert, Netherlands
- Died: 1890 (aged 37) – Auvers-sur-Oise, France
- Resting place: Cimetière d’Auvers-sur-Oise, Auvers-sur-Oise, France
- Nationality: Dutch
- Movement: Post-Impressionism
- Notable works:
- Starry Night, 1889, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City
- Starry Night Over the Rhône
- Sunflowers, 1888, at the The National Gallery, London
- Bedroom in Arles, 1988, at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
- Portrait of Dr Gachet, 1980, at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
- Irises, 1889, at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” William Shakespeare
Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Paul Gauguin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons