Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
‘I am working with the enthusiasm of a man from Marseilles eating bouillabaisse, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you because I am busy painting huge sunflowers.’ It was August, the sunflowers were blooming, and Van Gogh desperately wanted to capture them in a series of 12 pictures. Because the flowers wilted so quickly, he worked on his canvases every day.
He painted the series to decorate the room where Paul Gauguin would stay when he arrived in Arles. He chose this subject because his friend had previously admired his paintings of sunflowers run to seed.
In the end, Vincent executed four sunflower still lifes; however, he felt only two were good enough to hang in Gauguin’s bedroom. He was later to paint three copies of them, one of which is the version in the Van Gogh Museum.