Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh

Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh at the National Gallery in London

In this episode, we’ll be taking a closer look at Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh painted in 1888 at the National Gallery in London. Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me, Anthony King.

As always, I take all the photos and videos myself on location, ensuring you get an up-close and personal view of the fascinating world of art and culture. I’ll be popping in and out with commentary as this video progresses but for now let’s take a close up look.

The “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh is a series of still life paintings completed around 1888. These paintings depict a vase bursting with vibrant sunflowers and are emblematic of van Gogh’s fascination with nature and his evolving artistic style. Created during his stay in Arles, France, the “Sunflowers” series represents a significant departure from his previous works, both in subject matter and artistic technique. One of the most renowned versions of “Sunflowers” is currently housed in the National Gallery in London which you are looking at right now.

Van Gogh’s creation of “Sunflowers” was inspired by his close friendship with fellow artist Paul Gauguin. These paintings were intended to decorate Gauguin’s bedroom, serving as a symbol of the strong bond and artistic partnership shared by the two painters. They embody the concept of sharing beauty through art, a reflection of the mutual admiration that existed between the two friends.

The importance of “Sunflowers” within van Gogh’s body of work is indisputable. These paintings offer a glimpse into the artist’s emotional and psychological state during their creation. Van Gogh’s lifelong struggle with mental health issues is well-documented, and the “Sunflowers” series can be seen as a quest for solace and beauty in the midst of personal turmoil. The intense and joyful colours, particularly the vivid yellow of the sunflowers set against a radiant backdrop, represent hope and optimism.

Van Gogh’s use of colour and texture in this series is particularly noteworthy. The vibrant yellow hues of the sunflowers against the rich, textured background create a sense of depth and energy. The thick impasto technique, characterized by the heavy application of paint, gives the flowers a tactile quality, inviting viewers to almost feel their presence.

The National Gallery’s version of “Sunflowers” is a testament to van Gogh’s ability to capture the essence of these blooms in a way that goes beyond mere representation. His portrayal of the sunflowers’ life cycle, from the vibrant bloom to the wilting phase, adds an extra layer of depth and symbolism to the series. It represents the cycle of life and the transient nature of beauty.