Famous Friday // Sunflowers

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers, oil on canvas, 1889. Location: Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam.

Several summers ago when I was in Amsterdam I found myself dashing into the nearest museum in order to escape an approaching thunderstorm. Luckily for me, the closest museum was the Van Gogh Museum! We spent what seemed like hours touring the floors of the museum, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to this sunflower painting in particular. Of course, the museum was filled with so many other masterpieces by Van Gogh, but I felt as if this one was most characteristic of Van Gogh’s work.

Van Gogh created several similar works in his Sunflowers series, and had intended to give them as gifts to Paul Gauguin. In total, 12 paintings were created for this series which were painted from 1887-1889. Due to the discovery of new yellow pigments during the 19th century, Van Gogh was able to create vivacious yellow hued flowers, like the ones we see here.

These sunflowers, along with his self portraits, helped define his characteristic style of bold and dramatic brushstrokes. It is quite uncommon for exhibitions featuring Van Gogh to not include at least one of his works from his Sunflower series.