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Vincent van Gogh | Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers, 1888

Vincent wanted to be known as the Painter of Sunflowers.
Just like other painters working at the time, Vincent made flower still lifes.
But he did things a little differently.
After practising with different flowers, he chose a specific variety: the Sunflower.

His fellow painters thought that sunflowers were perhaps somewhat coarse and unrefined.
But this is exactly what Vincent liked, and he also enjoyed painting flowers that had gone to seed.
He gave sunflowers the lead role in several paintings.

Vincent knew that his sunflower paintings were special.
As did other people.
After he died, friends brought sunflowers with them to his funeral.
Sunflowers became synonymous with Vincent, just as he had hoped. | Source: © Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings were colour experiments

Vincent started painting flower still lifes to experiment with colour.
Flower still lifes also sold well, which was another reason to paint them.
Once Vincent had seen the fresh, colourful paintings of the Impressionists in Paris, he also wanted to introduce more colour into his work.
His initial flower still lifes still had traditional colours, but Vincent tried out increasingly more extreme colour contrasts. | Source: © Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)