Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch painter, created two series of still life paintings titled “Sunflowers” in 1887 and 1888. The series was intended to form a triptych and symbolize gratitude. One set depicts the flowers lying on the ground while the other shows a bouquet of sunflowers in a vase. Van Gogh painted a total of 11 works with sunflowers as the primary subject.
“Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers,” one of Van Gogh’s most notable works from this series, was created in August 1888 in Arles, France. The painting features thick brushstrokes (impasto) that evoke the texture of the seed-heads. Van Gogh intended to decorate Gauguin’s room with these paintings in the Yellow House, which he rented at that time.
The composition is arranged asymmetrically and provides an illusionistic sense of space within the painting plane. The golden color palette used by van Gogh for this artwork deliberately symbolizes warmth and happiness as it denotes sunlight; however, as time passes by or if exposed to artificial light for an extended period, it will fade due to photosensitivity concerns.
Overall, “Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” is considered as one of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces. It showcases his love for bright colors and impasto techniques while expressing its meaning through symbolism. Moreover, it has contributed significantly to art history concerning both its style and cultural significance that inspired several artists worldwide towards modern art discourses like Fauvism or Expressionism movements posthumously following Van Gogh’s suicidal death few years after creating this work.