Skip to main content

Paul Gauguin, 'A Vase of Flowers', 1896

Key facts
Full title A Vase of Flowers
Artist Paul Gauguin
Artist dates 1848 - 1903
Date made 1896
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 64 × 74 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1918
Inventory number NG3289
Location Room 43
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Vase of Flowers
Paul Gauguin

Gauguin painted this still life soon after he had arrived in Tahiti for his second and final stay in 1895. Exotic red bougainvillea and hibiscus, white and yellow frangipani, white tiare and large blue leaves burst out of a dark clay pot. They look as though they are slightly past their best, and some blossoms have fallen onto the table top. What seems to have interested Gauguin is the pattern of decorative shapes and the delicate interweaving of reds, creams and blues against the gold background rather than the horticultural detail.

Gauguin may have started this extravagant bouquet as a study of an actual floral arrangement but finished it from imagination, as it has the same dream-like quality as his Tahitian figure paintings. In 1899, when the dealer Ambroise Vollard asked Gauguin to send him some flower paintings for sale, the artist replied that he had ‘done only a few’ because ‘I do not copy nature – today even less than formerly. With me, everything happens in my exuberant imagination.’

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo