Sunflowers

Sunflowers
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Year 1888
Medium Oil on canvas
Location National Gallery, London
Dimensions 36.2 in × 28.7 in
92.1 cm × 73 cm
Vincent van Gogh Famous Paintings
The Starry Night, 1889
Sunflowers, 1888
Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888
Irises, 1889
The Potato Eaters, 1885
Yellow House, 1888
Café Terrace at Night, 1888
The Red Vineyard, 1888
Outskirts of Paris, 1887

The Sunflowers were a series of paintings by the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Willem van Gogh, who lived from March 30, 1853 to July 29, 1890. He painted this series between 1888 and 1889. There are a total of seven paintings in this series. All his works, with a few exceptions, are classified with a letter ‘F’ followed by a number, a method devised by J.B. de la Faille in a book “The Works of Vincent Van Gogh”.

The seven paintings are classified as follows:

• The first version of Sunflowers (F.453) had a turquoise background it is Oil on canvas and had dimensions of 73.5 x 60 cm. It is in a private collection.
• The second version of Sunflowers (F.459) shows a royal-blue background and it is Oil on canvas measuring 98 x 69 cm. This painting was in a private collection in Japan and was destroyed in a fire during WWII on August 6, 1945.
• The third version of Sunflowers (F.456) has a light blue green background and it is Oil on canvas measuring 91 x 72 cm. It is in Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.
• The fourth version of Sunflowers (F.454) has a yellow background and is Oil on canvas measuring 92.1 x 73 cm. It is in the National Gallery, London, England.
• The fifth version of Sunflowers (F.455) is a repetition of the third version and is also Oil on canvas measuring 92 x 72.5 cm. It is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, US.
• The sixth version of Sunflowers (F.458) was a repetition of the fourth version and had a yellow background. It is oil on canvas measuring 95 x 73 cm. It is a permanent loan to the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
• The seventh version of Sunflowers (F.457) is a replica of the fourth version and has a yellow green background. It is oil on canvas measuring 100 x 76 cm. It is in the Sompo Japan Museum of Art.

Vincent Van Gogh belonged to the post-impressionist school of painting. They were basically painters, who originated from the school of impressionism but refused to adhere to its limitations. They continued to use vivid colors painted using a thick coat of paint, with distinctive brush strokes and based on real life subjects. They emphasized geometric forms and distorted them for giving additional effect to the painting. At times they painted it in an unnatural or arbitrary color, further enhancing the impression created by the geometrical effect. The Sunflowers series are paintings which belong to this school of thought.

Unfortunately in some of his paintings, Van Gogh used inferior quality of paints, which faded, thus losing their original quality. By the time he painted the Sunflowers series, innovations in manufactured pigments had improved and new vibrant colors such as chrome yellow were available. This helped Van Gogh to achieve the intensity in the color of the Sunflowers.

The Sunflowers series has the stamp of Van Gogh on it. Van Gogh, victim to frequent bouts of mental problems, has excelled himself in this series. He has used vibrant colors and they typically express the emotions associated with sunflowers. A bright yellow hue in full bloom, to the shades of brown during wilting and death, all the stages of life and death are woven in a single painting. The Sunflowers paintings are the masterpieces of a genius.

2 Responses to “Sunflowers”

  1. Megan Cook says:

    This comment made by a person posing with Big Bird in their avatar. To each their own I suppose.

  2. Ant Simmons says:

    Well Amy I saw ‘Sunflowers’ in the National Gallery London in 1977, when I was 19. It really is quite the most incredible piece of art. Perhaps you are unable to appreciate it. I suspect your talents lie in a different direction, well there’s nothing wrong with that, we are not all the same. What’s your passion?

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