Lina Grigaliunaite asks why Vincent van Gogh’s sunflowers are so famous. Find out the answer.
Sunflowers is a powerful painting. Using just three tints of yellow ‘and nothing else’, Van Gogh achieved a glorious harmony of colours. The simple motif also profoundly appeals to a lot of people.
Vincent painted multiple versions of a large bunch of sunflowers in a vase, and that’s why we don’t refer to ‘the’ sunflowers. He planned to paint a series of twelve, to decorate his yellow house in Arles. He ultimately completed just five, and these are spread around the globe: on display at museums in Amsterdam, Munich, London, Tokyo and Philadelphia.
Paul Gauguin, who lived with Van Gogh in the yellow house for more than two months, asked if he could keep one of the paintings in exchange for some studies he had left behind. Gauguin thought the sunflowers were ‘a perfect example of the style that was completely Vincent’.