Monday, January 2, 2012

Paul Gauguin: The Painter of Sunflowers - Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

Public Domain Photos: The Painter of Sunflowers (Le Peintre de Tournesols), oil on jute painting by Paul Gauguin, 73 cm x 91 cm (28.7 in x 35.8 in), located at Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Painter of Sunflowers: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh is a portrait of the Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) in December 1888 during his two-months’ stay at Arles, a city and commune in the south of France. The painting features van Gogh as a red bearded man in a brown coat, holding a brush in his right hand and painting sunflowers.

During his stay in Arles van Gogh invited Gauguin to visit him as van Gogh was planning to organize a collective community of artists there. He had also hoped for long-lasting friendship with Gauguin. On 23 October, Gauguin arrived in Arles where the two artists painted together during November. But soon they developed bitter difference of opinion and quarreled frequently on matters regarding art.

Though van Gogh greatly admired Gauguin, he felt that he was arrogant and feared that Gauguin would desert him. Van Gogh became frustrated and critically ill and on 23 December 1888, he threatened Gauguin with a razor blade. But instead of harming Gauguin, he ran to a nearby brothel that used to be the only point of contact he had with other people. In the brothel, he cut off his left ear (or only the lower part of the left earlobe, as claimed by some other accounts) and staggered home, where Gauguin later found him lying unconscious in a pool of blood.

Gauguin took van Gogh to a hospital and informed Theo van Gogh, his younger brother and art dealer, who visited the hospital. Van Gogh had to be in the hospital for several days during which he kept on asking for Gauguin who stayed away. Gauguin left Arles without facing him and he never met van Gogh again.

Now ‘The Painter of Sunflowers’ is housed in the Van Gogh Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of paintings and drawings by van Gogh, and a large number of works by his contemporary artists.