Sunflowers 1889 by Vincent van Gogh | Oil Painting Reproduction
58 cm
Sunflowers 1889
Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Size: 75 x 58 cm (29.5 x 22.8")
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Price: $315.00
Selected size: 75 x 58 cm (29.5 x 22.8")

Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers needs no introduction. As one of the most iconic and most loved artworks of all time, it holds a unique place in art history.

Where is van Gogh Sunflowers original painting?

Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers 1889 is one of seven versions of these extraordinary flowers. 

Today, five examples remain on display in museums around the world. One resides in a private collection, while another, purchased by a Japanese collector, was sadly destroyed during World War II.

The best-known Sunflower oil painting hangs in the National Gallery, London. Other Vincent van Gogh sunflower paintings are in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Sompo Museum (Tokyo), and the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, Germany.

Of the two “original” sunflower paintings one is in a private collection, and the other missing after a WWII bombing raid.

What does this painting represent?

In this painting, Van Gogh portrays fifteen individual sunflowers. Each flower represents a different stage in its life cycle. Some are merely young buds, as yet unopened (for instance, the bud in the lower left corner). Others are fully mature and in full bloom (seven in total), with seven more progressing toward eventual decay.

In contrast with the impressionist’s small dappled brushstrokes, Van Gogh depicts each petal with careful, elongated brushstrokes. Each movement follows the overall shape of the petals, stems, and leaves. Indeed, the curved lines almost veer towards an Art Nouveau style.

Aside from the painting’s literal content, the life cycle of the sunflower also represents the “vanitas” tradition of Dutch art. As well as this, sunflowers further symbolize love and passion in popular culture. The painting embodies platonic non-sexual love, and its sunflowers always follow the sun.

In Dutch culture, sunflowers referenced true Christian believers always trusting and following Christ. For Van Gogh, this devotion represented his dedication to art and beauty. The association with art, faith, and love also makes the flowers an appropriate subject for welcoming Paul Gauguin to Arles.

Aside from the many metaphorical possibilities, Van Gogh’s sunflowers also represent the beauty and energy of the natural world. Their likeness appears in many Van Gogh paintings (still life or natural scenes) throughout his career.

Why did Van Gogh paint yellow flowers?

Van Gogh wrote to his brother, saying, “the sunflower is mine.” Indeed, in this prescient comment, Van Gogh accurately predicted his identification with sunflowers in the popular imagination.

While no other artist is as closely related to a specific flower as Van Gogh, we know relatively little about his exact reasons for choosing sunflowers. However, in the most direct explanation, van Gogh wrote to the art critic Albert Aurier, describing how sunflowers personally symbolized “gratitude”. 

This specific sunflower painting appeared during a rare moment of intense optimism for Van Gogh. For this troubled artist, yellow was the color of happiness. 

He painted the artwork at a time of great personal excitement, awaiting the arrival of Paul Gauguin at his home in Arles in the South of France. Van Gogh hoped the two men would pioneer an artist’s colony and foster a long-term creative partnership.

Despite this, sunflowers also represent more tragic cycles of life and death. Van Gogh possibly chose the flowers for their transient beauty, as the petals rapidly fade after a short period of bright, beautiful blooms.

Did Van Gogh create paintings for Gauguin?

Aside from their symbolic importance, Van Gogh also knew Gauguin liked his sunflower pictures. So, while he didn’t paint them directly for Gauguin, he was eager to hear his friend’s esteemed artistic opinion. 

Sadly, Gauguin frequently criticized Van Gogh’s work. The emotional anguish leading from frequent arguments was too much for Van Gogh to bear.

While the fall-out from Gauguin and Van Gogh’s brief period of residence is well-documented (culminating in Van Gogh severing his ear), what’s less well-known is the two men stayed in touch afterward.

Continuing to exchange letters, Gauguin even asked Van Gogh to create another sunflower painting. These flowers held significance for the two artists, as Gauguin created Van Gogh's Painting Sunflowers during his stay. But unfortunately, the sunflower season was over during Gauguin’s time in Arles (lasting from October to December 1889), and the entire scene was imaginary.

After Van Gogh’s death, Gauguin painted Sunflowers (1901) in a moving tribute to his friend.

When did Van Gogh start painting Sunflowers?

Famous painter Van Gogh created sunflowers throughout his artistic career.

On his arrival in Paris in 1886, Van Gogh adored the bright color palette of artists such as Renoir. The impressionist use of contrasting colors and expressive techniques transformed Van Gogh’s paintings, leading to experimentation with unmixed, vivid colors.  

Sunflowers appear in many of Van Gogh's still life, drawings, sketches, and studies, for instance, Still Life with Roses and Flowers. Despite this, Van Gogh’s specific “sunflower series” refers to works created in 1888 and 1889.

While some paintings of sunflowers may have been lost or destroyed, we know of seven artworks forming the series.

These seven paintings form two main phases. The first phase commenced in August 1888. Van Gogh painted all four artworks in just one week, writing to his brother Theo that he worked “with the gusto of a Marseillaise eating bouillabaisse.” 

The artist further commented that if he continued at a similar rate, he’d soon have “twelve or more paintings,” transforming his room into a “symphony in blue and yellow.”

Van Gogh created three other replica artworks in January 1889. He described these last three paintings as “absolutely equal” and identical to the previous works. Van Gogh created the copies to display as side panels for his portrait painting of Madame Roulin (1888).

Why is this impressionist flower painting so special?

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers are unique for many reasons. First, they represent a stunning presentation of painterly skill and vibrant beauty in the first instance. The flowers themselves mirror the sun and heat of Provence, with each floral orb referencing the fiery sun itself.

In addition, the work was amongst the first paintings produced by Van Gogh after moving to Arles. It reflects his growing artistic and personal self-confidence. Indeed, Sunflowers demonstrates the artist’s new expressive and post-impressionist style, communicated via a strictly limited color palette.

Van Gogh described the work as simply “a picture all in yellow”. Yet, despite this focus on a single tone, the yellows astound in their variety. From greenish yellows in the background, they range to vivid orange ochres and the warm tones of the vase itself.

Today, Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers remains not only the artist’s best-known and loved work, but one of the most famous oil paintings in the entirety of art history. 
It is also one of our popular fine art reproductions.

Now you can buy high quality art reproductions of van Gogh Sunflower paintings including Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers and Vase with Twelve Sunflowers

We offer a 100% money back guarantee or replacement service. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your painting please contact us within 7 days of receipt, advising the reason you are unhappy and we will provide you with all the information you need for its return or replacement.

We ship free to anywhere in the world via FedEx or DHL expedited service with online tracking.

Your painting will be shipped rolled in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and/or framing locally. This is the conventional method of transporting hand-painted oil on canvas. Learn more about how your painting is shipped.

We are able to offer a framing service intercontinental U.S. Please contact us if you would like a quotation. Alternatively, should you prefer, we can recommend a framer in your area.

Notes About Your Painting

Please note that replica oil paintings are finished with an additional 10cm (4") of extra canvas on all sides, allowing ample surplus canvas for stretching and framing.

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