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The Sunflowers - National Gallery

Exhibition preview

THE Sunflowers, on display in Room 46 of the National Gallery from January 25 to April 27, 2014, offers visitors the unique opportunity to witness the reunion of two of Vincent van Gogh’s iconic Sunflower paintings – shown together in London for the first time in 65 years.

Visitors will be given the chance to compare and contrast these much-loved masterpieces side by side, while also exploring new research about the artist’s working practices.

The paintings, one owned by the National Gallery, the other by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) are two of the five versions of Sunflowers that are now spread around the world (the others currently residing in Tokyo, Munich and Philadelphia).

The series dates from 1888, when Van Gogh left Paris to paint in the brilliant sunshine of the South of France, inviting Paul Gauguin to join him. Waiting for Gauguin to arrive, Van Gogh painted a series of pictures of sunflowers to decorate his friend’s bedroom. They were meant as a sign of friendship and welcome, but also of Vincent’s allegiance to Gauguin as his artistic leader.

The pair worked together throughout autumn 1888 – but it ended very badly at the close of the year when Van Gogh seemed to have a nervous breakdown, famously cut off part of his ear and entered an asylum.

The display will also include the results of recent scientific research into the two paintings carried out by both institutions. These investigations have revealed new insights into how Van Gogh painted his Sunflowers and what materials he used – giving us a deeper understanding of the making and meaning of these works of art, and of their relationship to each other.

A hardback book, The Sunflowers are Mine – The Story of Van Gogh’s Masterpiece (pictured), is also available to buy, priced £25.

Admission: Free.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN