Sunflowers: symbols of happiness

Find out why Sunflowers represented happiness for Van Gogh. Learn how he experimented with colour to capture mood and express identity.

Symbols of happiness

The Sunflowers is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery. It is the painting that is most often reproduced on cards, posters, mugs, tea-towels and stationery. It was also the picture that Van Gogh was most proud of.

It was painted during a rare period of excited optimism, while Van Gogh awaited the arrival of his hero, the avant-garde painter Paul Gauguin.

The lonely and passionate Vincent had moved to Arles, in the South of France, where he dreamed of setting up a community of artists with Gauguin as its mentor.

Van Gogh, 'Sunflowers', 1888
Van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888

 

The 'Sunflowers' was intended to impress Gauguin and was a gesture of friendship. The alliance was to end in disaster.

Next: Why sunflowers?

 
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