NATIONAL GALLERY, Van Gogh Sunflowers

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Your tour through the National Gallery concludes with the work titled Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh: this theme was quite dear to the Dutch artist, who painted them several times in a series of canvases that are famous worldwide.

It was painted in the summer of 1888 when the artist was in Arles in the south of France.

Like many other paintings depicting the same subject, Van Gogh hung it in his house, where he welcomed his friend Paul Gauguin, with whom he hoped to found a sort of community of artists who lived and worked together. The experience only lasted a few months and ended with Gauguin's sudden departure following an argument. The Sunflowers are both the witnesses and the protagonists of this short period of time: two versions hung in Gauguin's room, and the artist even depicted his friend intently painting them.

The image of the Sunflowers can be interpreted as a symbol of the circle of life: if you look carefully at the individual flowers in the jar, you'll notice how some are just buds while others are already drooping and falling down. Life and death therefore coexist in the painting. The bright sunflowers have an extremely realistic appearance that's partly due to the dense, thick texture of the paint, despite Van Gogh's quick and light brush strokes.

Almost in an intentional contrast with the naturalistic appearance of the flowers, the vase and table appear stylised, and are defined by a thick outline. See how the passage from the table to the wall is highlighted by two different shades of yellow, one darker and one lighter, which are symmetrically reversed on the flower vase. The painter's signature can be seen in the middle of the vase, almost like a decoration on the ceramic surface.


FUN FACT: this painting is a triumph of yellow and orange.

In addition to paying clear homage to the sun of Provence, Van Gogh considered yellow a symbol of friendship and happiness.

And with this we have finished our tour of the National Gallery in London. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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