About Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflower Paintings – In His Own Words

Growing up, I remember my mother had a reproduction Van Gogh painting in our kitchen of one of Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower paintings. His sunflower painting is some of his most famous paintings and what many people know him for.

We know that Vincent van Gogh loved Sunflowers, so it is no surprise that he painted them a lot and surrounded and decorated his studio with Sunflower pictures. Van Gogh did not just paint one Sunflower picture, but plenty of them.

In many of his letters to his brother Theo, Vincent spoke about his Sunflower paintings. Below are some reasons why Vincent Van Gogh loved the Sunflowers and what the sunflower paintings meant to him.

Vincent Van Gogh Loved Sunflowers

Vincent van Gogh loves sunflowers. In a letter to the fellow artist Emile Bernard he wrote this about decorating his office with Sunflower paintings:

“I’m thinking of decorating my studio with half a dozen paintings of Sunflowers.
A decoration in which harsh or broken yellows will burst against various blue backgrounds, from the palest Veronese to royal blue, framed with thin laths painted in orange lead.
Sorts of effects of stained-glass windows of a Gothic church.”

Vincent Van Gogh – Letter to Emile Bernard – 21 August 1888

He did decorate his office with a series of sunflower paintings. He bought frames for a number of the paintings that he framed himself with wood. So we know that sunflowers were very important to Vincent van Gogh and it was a subject matter that he liked enough to surround himself with in his art studio.

Vincent Van Gogh Painted Many Sunflower Paintings

Vincent van Gogh painted many sunflower paintings. And speaking of this to his brother Theo he wrote the following about his sunflower pictures in 1888.

I’m painting with the gusto of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won’t surprise you when it’s a question of painting large Sunflowers.
I have 3 canvases on the go, 1) 3 large flowers in a green vase, light background (no. 15 canvas), 2) 3 flowers, one flower that’s gone to seed and lost its petals and a bud on a royal blue background (no. 25 canvas),3) twelve flowers and buds in a yellow vase (no. 30 canvas).So the last one is light on light, and will be the best, I hope. I’ll probably not stop there.

Vincent Van Gogh To Brother Theo – 22 August 1888

We learn from this how vital sunflowers were as a subject matter to Vincent van Gogh. Not only for the decoration of a yellow house studio but also as a subject matter that he enjoyed and liked to paint.

Paul Gauguin Loved Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflower Paintings

We know that Paul Gauguin loved Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower paintings. He was known to say that when he thought of Vincent van Gogh, he thought of the sunflowers. Maybe that was because of the studio at the yellow house with the sunflower paintings.

We also know that Paul Gauguin traded some of his works of art for the sunflower paintings.

In a letter to his brother in February 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote this about Paul Gauguin and the sunflower paintings:

“So I would like only, should Gauguin, who has a complete infatuation with my sunflowers, take these two paintings from me, that he gives your fiancée or you two of his paintings, not mediocre ones but better than mediocre. And if he takes a version of the Berceuse all the more reason why he should also give something good on his part.”

Letter to His brother theo – 3 February 1889

Gauguin did receive some of the Van Gogh Sunflower paintings. But more than that, we know that Paul Gauguin loved the sunflower paintings as he painted Van Gogh painting his sunflowers.

The Painter of Sunflower, also known in French as Le Peintre de Tournesols, is a portrait that Paul Gauguin painted of Vincent Van Gogh painting his beloved sunflowers. The Painter of Sunflowers is shown at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Holland.

Many Sunflower Paintings Have Survived

Many of Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings still survive and are found in museums worldwide. Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings have always been in high demand.

Places you can see original Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflower Paintings:

  • Four Cut Sunflowers By Vincent Van Gogh (1887) are at the Kroller-Muller Museum in Ontario, Holland
  • Two Cut Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh (1887) Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
  • Two Cut Sunflowers (Version 2) by Vincent Van Gogh (1887) Kuntsmuseum, Bern Switzerland.
  • Two Cut Sunflowers (Version 3) by Vincent Van Gogh (1887) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the USA
  • One Vase of Sunflowers with Fifteen Flowers, by Vincent Van Gogh, is at the Japan Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
  • Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers, by Vincent Van Gogh, National Gallery of London, London, England.
  • Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Holland.
  • Vase with Twelve Flowers, by Vincent Van Gogh, is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
  • One Vase with Twelve Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh is at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, Germany
  • A Vase with Three Sunflowers is part of a private collection located in the United States. 
  • One of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Vase with Five Sunflowers, was part of the private collection of Koyata Yamamoto. In 1945 during the American air attack on Japan during World War II, the building where the painting was located was burned, and the painting was destroyed.

To discover more about Van Gogh and his sunflowers, you can read the blog Vincent Van Gogh and His Sunflower Paintings by clicking here.

Great paintings and artists like Vincent van Gogh inspire me. Anita Louise Art is dedicated to art education, great artists, and inspiring others to find and create their art. We love art that uplifts and inspires. #ArtToMakeYouSmile! #ArtToMakeYouHappy!

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42 Motivational And Inspiring Quotes by the Artist Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Willem Van Gogh was a very inspiring Dutch impressionist painter. He was a very prolific painter, as in just over a decade he created over 2,100 works of art, including about 860 oil paintings.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading 42 Motivational And Inspiring Quotes by the Artist Vincent Van Gogh.

How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous?

Vincent van Gogh’s painting became famous because his sister-in-law took it upon herself after his death and the death of her husband Theo to find a way to get his paintings and name out to the world. She was brilliant and savvy in how she did this. By the time she had died in 1925, Vicent van Gogh was world renown.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous?

What Did Theo Van Gogh Die Of?

Theo van Gogh’s cause of death is dementia paralytica; this disease is most commonly associated with the final stages of syphilis. After Vincent died with Theo by his side, Theo’s health deteriorated, and he died just six months after Vincent van Gogh died.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading What Did Theo Van Gogh Die Of?.