Sunflowers (series of paintings)

Sunflowers (series of paintings)

"Sunflowers" (original title, in French, Tournesols) are the subject of a series of still life paintings executed in oil on canvas by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Among the "Sunflowers" paintings are three similar paintings with fifteen sunflowers in a vase, and two similar paintings with twelve sunflowers in a vase. Van Gogh painted the first "Vase with Twelve Sunflowers", which is now in the Neue Pinakothek Museum in Munich, Germany, and the first "Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers", which is now in National Gallery, London, England, in August 1888 when he was living in Arles southern France. The later similar paintings were painted in January the following year. The paintings are all painted on about 93 × 72 cm (37" × 28") canvases. An earlier series of four still life using sunflowers were painted in Paris in 1887.

Van Gogh began painting in late summer 1888 and continued into the following year. One went to decorate his friend Paul Gauguin's bedroom. The paintings show sunflowers in all stages of life, from fully in bloom to withering. The paintings were innovative for their use of the yellow spectrum, partly because newly invented pigments made new colours possible. In a letter to his brother Theo, van Gogh wrote: "the sunflower is mine in a way".

On March 31, 1987, even those without interest in art were made aware of van Gogh's "Sunflowers" series when Japanese insurance magnate Yasuo Goto paid the equivalent of USD $39,921,750 for Van Gogh's "Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers" at auction at Christie's London, at the time a record-setting amount for a work of art. [ cite web |last=Clines |first=Francis X. |title= Van Gogh Sets Auction Record: $39.9 Million |publisher="The New York Times" |date=1987-03-31 |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE3DB1F3DF932A05750C0A961948260 |accessdate=2008-06-13 ] The price was over four times the previous record of about $12 million paid for Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi in 1985. The record was broken a few months later with the purchase of another Van Gogh, "Irises" by Alan Bond for $53.9 million at Sotheby's, New York on November 11, 1987.

While it is uncertain whether Yaso Goto bought the painting himself or on behalf of his company, the Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company of Japan, the painting currently resides at Seiji Togo Yasuda Memorial Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. After the purchase a controversy arose whether this is a genuine van Gogh or an Emile Schuffenecker forgery.

Many of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings resemble each other but all have unique qualities.

unflower still lifes painted in Arles

External links

* [http://www.vggallery.com/misc/sunflowers.htm Sunflowers] , the complete series of paintings.
* [http://vangoghgallery.com/painting/sunflowerindex.html Analysis] of two sunflower paintings.
* [http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/articles/vang0898.htm Account of the controversy over van Gogh forgeries]

References

*Welsh-Ovcharov, Bogomila: "The Ownership of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers", Burlington Magazine, March 1998, pp. : listing eleven still lifes of sunflowers, four in Paris and seven in Arles.
*Dorn, Roland: "Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' series: the fifth toile de 30", Van Gogh Museum Journal 1999, pp. 42-61.


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