During the August and September, when sunflowers are a hearty flower common in many areas, it is hard not to be reminded of Van Gogh. Sunflowers have become an iconic symbol of the artist and his work. Sunflowers were a popular subject in Van Gogh’s paintings when he moved to Arles, France; many of them he created to decorate Paul Gauguin’s room in the Yellow House in Arles.
When writing to his brother Theo about Arles and the flowers in a letter from August 8, 1888, Van Gogh wrote
“Under the blue sky the orange, yellow, red splashes of the flowers take on an amazing brilliance, and in the limpid air there is a something or other happier, more lovely than in the North.”
It is not surprising that Van Gogh captured that happiness in some of his most famous Sunflower paintings which he created during his stay in Arles. His most commonly known Sunflower paintings are the Sunflowers and the Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, but he created several other lesser known Sunflower paintings. His earlier paintings containing sunflowers were done in Paris from 1886-1887. These paintings do not have the same vibrant yellows as the Arles series has, but show his early development of this subject. View a few of them here: