|Courtesy of www.VincentVanGogh.org|
Van Gogh painted a series of pictures depicting sunflowers, having first been inspired by the yellow flowers H Paris where he saw them growing in the gardens of Montmartre. They were a motif that he returned to often, and in the summer of I 888 he embarked on a large number of paintings of sunflowers to decorate his studio and house in preparation for Gauguin's arrival. Sunflowers were symbolic of life and hope to the artist, and could also be associated with his concept of the sun - round, glowing, yellow, and hopeful. In a letter to Emile Bernard written around 21 August 1888 Vincent wrote:
I'm thinking of decorating my studio with half a dozen paintings of Sunflowers. A decoration in which harsh or broken yellows will burst against various blue backgrounds, from the palest Veronese to royal blue, framed with thin laths painted in orange lead. Sorts of effects of stained-glass windows of a Gothic church."
It is extraordinary that the artist, who was so plagued with mental illness and depression, was able to have interludes marked by such a positive outlook, which was reflected in his works. In Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, he has reduced the elements of the composition so that the image is one of great simplicity, while also reducing the colours to primarily his favourite yellow, This reflects him synthesizing realism with pattern and ornament, so they are both highly decorative and almost symbolist in feel, but also retain a fundamentally real quality,