Mirjam Vos asks why Van Gogh so often painted sunflowers. Discover the answer.
There are actually five versions of Sunflowers – probably Van Gogh’s most well-known motif. When Van Gogh’s persistence finally paid off and Paul Gauguin agreed to visit him in Arles, Vincent wanted to decorate his house and studio with 'nothing but large sunflowers’.
Van Gogh was fond of flowers, and knew that Gauguin would also appreciate the motif. He finished three large versions before Gauguin arrived. His initial idea was to create a series of paintings in yellow and blue, but once he started painting, he soon departed from that plan and started using numerous other colour variations.
Another two versions followed after he suffered an attack of his illness and Gauguin returned home. Van Gogh sometimes painted other motifs multiple times, for example, to improve on the initial version or to repair a damaged work.