Many of the paintings you’ll find in Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower are of lavish bouquets bursting with color and beauty. In fact, Vincent van Gogh spent 1886 and 1887 painting two dozen such floral still lifes, several of which are included in this exhibition. However, in the winter of 1887 and 1888, the artist changed his focus and began to paint more commonplace arrangements, including fruit, onions, and even weed-like plants. He also shifted his perspective, capturing these subjects from above or from a close-up view.
While living in Arles in the South of France during the summer of 1888, van Gogh painted Daisies, Arles. The overhead view of the weedy foliage blooming with simple white flowers epitomizes van Gogh’s newfound interest in the humble and the familiar. This painting was part of the Life Estate of Paul Mellon and was gifted to VMFA in 2014 upon the death of his widow, Rachel Lambert Mellon.
This blog series delves into a selection of the works from the special exhibition Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower. This exhibition traces the reinvention of the floral still life, as French artists in the 19th century turned this most traditional of genres into an unexpected field of experimentation and exploration. We hope that these posts will inspire you to enjoy this fascinating exhibition in person.