This discussion traces the particular history of the sunflower still life. Dr. Richard Brettell, Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies, University of Texas, Dallas, explains how “Monet was the first great artist to stuff a bunch of recently cut sunflowers into a vase and paint it, . . . starting a condition that had its climax when van Gogh painted his first group of sunflowers in the summer of 1888.” Van Gogh, in turn, inspired Gauguin, who planted a garden in remote Tahiti in 1898 from which he harvested sunflowers to paint the most complex floral still life paintings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Educational programming for Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower is generously supported by The Robert Lehman Foundation.