Lost Van Gogh Sunflower Painting: Photograph Uncovered




An historian researching a book on the Post Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh has uncovered a colour photo of the work of art, in the archives of the Mushakoji Saneatsu Memorial Museum in Osaka Japan. The masterpiece was destroyed in a fire after the US bombing of Osaka during World War II.

The rare photograph shows the work in an original frame made by the artist and painted orange. There were six Sunflower paintings executed in 1888. The painting, also known as Vase with Five Sunflowers, depicts the flowers in a vase against a dark blue background. The painting was sold to a Japanese collector and exported to Japan in 1920.

Martin Bailey, a curator found the photograph while researching his latest book ‘The Sunflowers are Mine’ He told the BBC “I went back to Van Gogh’s letters and he described when he was painting the sunflowers how he was going to put them in an orange frame. That has never been seen before, Van Gogh loved complementary colours, like blue and orange together. He was really creating a total work of art, framing his picture”. “We can actually see how Van Gogh wanted to present his sunflowers. We can see the painting as Van Gogh wanted to be seen. “It was a revolutionary idea at the time, framing a painting in orange. Conventionally, paintings were framed in gilt frames, and modern paintings were sometimes framed in plain white frames. “It showed what imagination and flair he had in doing something that was rather bold and would have actually appeared shocking. He wasn’t frightened of that. He was really using his imagination.”


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