Sunflowers (Tournesols) are the names of two still life series painted by Vincent van Gogh. The first series of paintings, performed in Paris in 1887, depicted the flowers lying on the ground. In the second series, which was made a year later at Arles, he painted a bouquet of sunflowers in a vase. In the artist’s mind, both sets are connected to the name of friend-artist Paul Gauguin, who bought two versions of the painting in Paris. About eight months later, Van Gogh hoped to welcome and impress Gauguin once again with Sunflowers. They are now part of the Gold House décor that he prepares for the living room of his house in Arles, where Gauguin will stay. After Gauguin left, Van Gogh imagined two versions of the wings decorated for Berceuse Triptych. And he eventually included them in his Les XX Bruxelles exhibition.
Sunflowers in Paris
We do not know much about Van Gogh‘s activities during the two years he lived with his younger brother in Paris (1886-1888). In fact, his drawing of sunflowers was only revealed in the spring of 1889 when Gauguin announced the exchange of one of the sunflower versions in Arles for the research he had left after leaving Arles to Paris. . Van Gogh felt uneasy and replied that Gauguin had absolutely no right to make this request.
On the 2 sunflower paintings that Van Gogh still wondered, each picture painted two flowers. One of them was started by a small study and a fourth large painting combined the two compositions. These are Van Gogh’s first paintings that “nothing but sunflowers.
Sunflowers in Arles
Ignoring the first two versions, all the Sunflower paintings in Arles were painted on canvas of size 30
These paintings are nothing like the detailed description of the series on canvas size 15 as shown by Van Gogh. The remaining paintings have a different number of flowers than Van Gogh described. The second version is obviously enlarged and changed the original by adding two flowers located at the front, center and right. Neither the third nor the fourth versions show either ten or fourteen flowers as indicated by the artist, but actually more: fifteen or sixteen. These changes are made by wet-on-wet technique and are therefore considered to be his own drawing. Even more so when they were copied into copies in January 1889. There are no traces of later edits, at least in this respect.