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“Vase with Red Poppies” by Vincent van Gogh

"Vase with Red Poppies" by Vincent van Gogh

“Vase with Red Poppies” by Vincent van Gogh

“Vase with Red Poppies” by Vincent van Gogh depicts one of the artist’s favorite subjects. Flowers were the subject of many of van Gogh’s paintings in Paris, and one of his many interests and fascinations.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother:

“You will see that by making a habit of looking at Japanese pictures, you will come to love to make up bouquets and do things with flowers all the more.”

Van Gogh advised his sister, Wil, to cultivate her garden to find joy and meaning in life. His paintings of sunflowers in vases are among his most well-known flower paintings. After he left Paris, van Gogh painted his second group of Sunflowers in Arles.

Vincent van Gogh made this painting of red poppies in Paris in 1886, where his friends sent bouquets weekly for his still-life paintings.

Van Gogh also purchased bouquets choosing flowers in a variety of colors for his paintings. In a letter to his sister Wil he wrote:

“Last year, I painted almost nothing but flowers so I could get used to colors other than grey – pink, soft or bright green, light blue, violet, yellow, glorious red.”

This impression was not accurate because while in Paris, he painted about 230 paintings, of which only 30 were based on flowers. His impression, however, underlines his passion for painting flowers as a way to develop his appreciation and understanding of color.

In 1976, the authenticity of this artwork was called into question. However, after nearly 40 years of speculation, Dutch experts and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have now verified that “Vase With Poppies” is a genuine Van Gogh.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art conservation lab has also used advanced x-ray and infrared reflectograms to inspect the painting. The new technology revealed the presence of an earlier painting beneath the current composition, which appears to be have been a self-portrait.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure.

He created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life.

They were characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive, and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Vase with Red Poppies

  • Title:                 Vase with Red Poppies
  • Artist:               Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                 Summer 1886, Paris
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions     Height: 56 cm (22 in); Width: 46.5 cm (18.3 in)
  • Museum:         Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh

Facts about Vincent van Gogh

  • Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands
  • Initially, van Gogh planned to be a pastor and worked as a lay preacher in Belgium. It was only on being let go from this job that he decided that his future lay in painting.
  • Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27 years old.
  • Van Gogh never received any formal art training.
  • Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, worked in an art gallery and introduced van Gogh to many artworks.
  • Van Gogh visited many parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and England.
  • Japanese woodblock prints profoundly influenced Van Gogh. He collected pictures of Japanese woodblock prints, and he practiced making copies.
  • Van Gogh had several close relationships with many fellow artists, including Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard.
  • Van Gogh’s artistic career was only ten years.
  • Van Gogh was a prolific letter writer, especially to his brother.
  • He created over 900 paintings plus many more drawings and sketches.
  • He died at the age of 37
  • As a poor artist, van Gogh didn’t have money to pay for models, so he painted himself instead. He created hundreds of self-portraits.
  • Van Gogh considered himself and many of his paintings to be failures.
  • Van Gogh cut off his ear in 1888.
  • Experts believe that that Gaugin cut off Van Gogh’s ear, following a violent dispute and that they both conspired to blame it on van Gogh so that Gaugin would not be jailed.
  • Van Gogh wrapped up his removed ear and gave it to a prostitute in a nearby brothel.
  • Van Gogh suffered mental health challenges for many years, and in 1889 he voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy.
  • Van Gogh spent a year in the hospital, from which he created some of his most well-known paintings.
  • Van Gogh spent his adult life in poverty, surviving on cheap food. His diet consisted mainly of bread and coffee; he drank alcohol excessively and always had his pipe in hand.
  • After leaving the asylum, Van Gogh’s mental health continued to deteriorate, and in 1890, he shot himself in the chest. He died two days later.
  • There is speculation that Van Gogh did not shoot himself but that he was shot in a prank that went wrong. Van Gogh protected the identity of who shot him, by claiming that he shot himself.
  • Only 37 years old when he died, he had just sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • On his deathbed, van Gogh’s last words to his brother were, “the sadness will last forever.”
  • Van Gogh’s brother died very soon after Van Gogh’s death.

Virtual Tour of Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art


Vincent Van Gogh’s Enduring Fascination

Vincent Van Gogh: The Humble Genius

Who Was Vincent Van Gogh?


“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

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