Vincent van Gogh - Two Cut Sunflowers 1887

Two Cut Sunflowers 1887
Two Cut Sunflowers
Oil on canvas 43.2 x 61.0 cm. Paris: August-September, 1887
New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA:
Van Gogh painted four still lifes of sunflowers in Paris in late summer 1887. There is an oil sketch for this picture (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) as well as another painting of two sunflowers also signed and dated 1887 (Kunstmuseum Bern), and a larger canvas showing four sunflower heads (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo). Paul Gauguin acquired the two smaller works, and until the mid-1890s, when he sold his most prized possessions to finance his South Seas voyage, they held pride of place above the bed in his Paris apartment.

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, between about Monday, 12 and about Thursday, 15 May 1884.
My dear Theo,
I’ve already left it too long before answering your last letter — and you’ll see how it came about. Let me start by saying that I thank you for your letter and for the enclosed 200 francs. And then I’ll tell you that today I’ve just about finished arranging a spacious new studio I’ve rented. Two rooms — one large and one small — en suite. I’ve been rather busy because of it this last fortnight. I believe I’ll be able to work a good deal more pleasantly there than in the little room at home. And hope that you’ll approve the step I’ve taken when you’ve seen it.
By the way, of late I’ve continued working hard on the large Weaver — which I mentioned to you recently — and also started a canvas of the little tower you know.
I think what you write about the Salon is very important. What you say about Puvis de Chavannes gives me very great pleasure that you see his work thus, and I’m in complete agreement with you in appreciating his talent. And as regards the colourists — it’s after all the same with me as with you — I can immerse myself in a Puvis de Chavannes, and yet that doesn’t alter the fact that I should feel the same for Mauve’s landscape with cows and Israëls’s paintings as you feel for them.
As regards my own colour, in the work I’m doing here you’ll find not silvery but rather brown tones (Bitumen, for instance, and Bistre) — which I don’t doubt some people would take amiss of me. But you’ll see for yourself what it’s like when you come. I’ve been so busy painting that recently I haven’t made a single drawing between times.
I’ve heard from Rappard that he’s coming at the end of this week, which pleases me greatly. What’s more, I have the idea that this year he’ll come back again for a little longer. He’s bringing a number of drawings of mine, which I’ll then send you right away.
Perhaps — in a while — I’ll agree with you that my position has improved because of the change last year, and that that change was good.
It will always be a sadness to me, though, that I had to give something up then that I’d have liked to pursue further at the time.
Ma is doing very well, in my view — yesterday she came to my new studio in her bath chair. Walking is getting better, although old age considerably frustrates her progress, which continues regularly now, although not as fast as one might think could be the case.
I’ve recently been getting on better with the people here than at the outset, which is worth a great deal to me, for one has a definite need to be able to give oneself a little distraction, and when one feels too lonely the work always suffers in consequence. One must, however, perhaps prepare oneself that these things won’t last for ever.
But I’m in good heart — it seems to me that the people in Nuenen are generally better than those in Etten or Helvoirt — there’s more sincerity here — at least that’s my impression now that I’ve been here a while. People do take a sanctimonious position in what they do — that’s true — but in such a way that for my part I have no scruples about going along with it a bit. And reality sometimes comes very close to the Brabant that one has dreamt.
My original plan of settling in Brabant — which fell to pieces — I must confess is attracting me strongly again. Yet knowing how something like that can collapse, we have to see whether or not it would be an illusion. Anyway, I have enough to do for the time being. I now have the space again to be able to work with a model.
And as to how long it will last, there’s no telling.
Well, regards — the Salon will certainly give you plenty to do, but at the same time also be an interesting time.
Thanks again for what you sent, which I really needed because of this change, by the way. I hope you’ll be able to agree with it when you see how I’ve fitted it out.
Adieu, with a handshake.
Yours truly,

Regards from everyone at home, and they ask whether you won’t write to them sometime. Pa has been to Breda; Aunt Bertha was doing well and the dressing had been taken off.