Two Cut Sunflowers, 1887 by Van Gogh

Van Gogh's continuing admiration for Japanese art became increasingly evident in his paintings, and in turn he admired the Impressionists for their absorption of Oriental influences. Drawing on his earlg experiences with the firm of art dealers Goupil et Cie, in March 1887 Van Gogh organized on exhibition of Japanese prints at the Cafe du Tambourin, and later turned to Japanese motifs for several of his paintings. By now his palette had become stridently coloured and almost unrecognizable from the sombre tones of his 'Dutch' period.

In the summer of 1887 he began to paint vibrant sunflowers having first seen them blooming with brilliant yellow in the gardens around Montmartre. It was a motif that he would return to often and one that he is now perhaps most associated with. Almost a year ofter painting Two Cut Sunflowers Van Gogh wrote from Arles in the south of France to his friend Bernard, 'I am thinking of decorating my studio with half a dozen pictures of 'Sunflowers', a decoration in which the raw or broken chrome yellows will blaze forth on various backgrounds...'