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The artwork titled Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers has a significant historical background. It is not a masterpiece that came into existence by chance or due to the sheer whimsy of the artist. It is a well though presentation with a clear intellectual intent and vivid content. This painting is a part of the series Sunflowers (or Tournesols in French). It belongs to a set of paintings executed in Arles in August, 1888. In this set of paintings, we can see bouquets of sunflowers (occasionally in combination with orange hued dahlias) in various styles, contours, and positions.
Discussing the historical background of this painting more intricately, it cannot be neglected that the series Sunflowers was painted mainly in two parts. According to Stolwijk and Veenenbos, the first part of the series was executed in Paris in 1887. The second part was executed in Arles during 1888. Many of the Sunflowers artworks were sold or auctioned to various art collectors and museums all over the world. But the fourth version, i.e., Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers, did not leave the artist’s estate at least in his lifetime. “Vincent began his series of sunflower paintings to enliven the studio of his Yellow House, but from the beginning they always meant more to him than simple decoration. Vincent hoped that his sunflower series would prompt discussions with his guests about art and illuminate for them the aesthetic experience of painting in the south.”
Historically, Van Gogh was influenced by his dear friend, Gaugin, at certain stages of his painting career. In the late 19th century, many of his artworks were sold or auctioned to the collectors and museums in the countries like Britain and USA through Gaugin. Thanks to the enthusiasts like Gaugin and several other admirers, we can today see Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers at the National Gallery, London. Contextually, Tellegen (42-45) holds that the environment and culture of Paris also had a profound effect on the painter. The simplicity of this artwork is the main attribute to its artistic value. In Van Gogh’s words, as stated by Mancoff (66), the artwork was “a picture all in yellow”. We can note only a few touches of green in the branches and stems and blue bordering lines of the table and the vase. Various shades of yellow color were used in the painting. However, this did not give it a pale look. On the contrary, it became a lively masterpiece. Furthermore, this picture does not belong to any complex genre of paintings. It is simply a still life work. A still life work is that where the painter obtains his idea from the surroundings. Unlike portraits, it may not be an intricate visualization of a real model or subject. Still life paintings may attain high levels of both reality and imagination. In the artwork I am discussing now, it is still not clear enough that whether the painter used some material, model object while painting it or not. In this way, the painting becomes simply intriguing and thought provoking in its genre and time. Part I.D When I looked at this masterpiece, I could see a bunch of sunflowers in a vase. The vase is on a table, seemingly in the front of a plastered wall. The sunflowers in the lower part of the bunch are strangely drooping down. Although two sunflowers at the lowest regions of this floral assortment do not face the spectator directly, they leave a lively impression. Most of the other sunflowers can be seen in a front view orientation. The lines that have been drawn to create the flowers are generally curved
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