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Sunflowers

1889
Vincent Willem van Gogh, Dutch, 1853 - 1890
Vincent van Gogh painted this luminous image of sunflowers from memory, in the depths of winter in 1889. Throughout his ten-year career, Van Gogh painted sunflowers repeatedly in different arrangements and settings. The shapes, colors, and cheerfulness of the modest flower appealed to him. He associated its yellow color with sunshine, the south, and Christ, the light of the world. Over a single week in August 1888, Van Gogh painted four pictures of sunflowers, including a bold canvas of twelve sunflowers against a turquoise ground, now in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich. The speed of this work was driven by enthusiasm and necessity since the flowers were destined to wilt and fade. This painting is a variation on the work now in Munich. Far from being a simple copy, it is a new interpretation that gives each flower a pronounced personality....

Object Details
Vincent Van Gogh; Theo van Gogh; Paul Gauguin, acquired by gift or exchange at the end of May-early June 1889; sold through Georges Chaudet as agent to Ambroise Vollard, Paris, April 10, 1896 [1]; sold to Comte Antoine de La Rochefoucauld (1862–c. 1960), December 21, 1896; with Paul Rosenberg, Paris; sold to Carroll S. Tyson, Jr. (1878-1956), Philadelphia, 1928; bequest to PMA, 1963.1. Early provenance according to Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, "The Ownership of Vincent van Gogh's 'Sunflowers'," in Burlington Magazine, vol. 140, no. 1140, March 1998, p. 184-192. Georges Chaudet was an artist-dealer and friend of Gauguin. For an alternative pre-Vollard provenance (disputed by Welsh-Ovcharov), see Sutton, Northern European Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1990, p. 104. Louis van Tilborgh and Ella Hendriks dispute the Gauguin/Chaudet/Vollard sequence, proposing instead that the painting was still in the family collection at the end of 1890 ("The Tokyo 'Sunflowers': A Genuine Repetitition by Van Gogh or a Schuffenecker Forgery?", Van Gogh Museum Journal, 2001, p. 25-27).

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