Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Vincent!


Vincent van Gogh was born today in 1853, in the village of Zundert in the southern Netherlands. To celebrate his day, here is one of his floral still life paintings from the Paris period: "Frittilaries in a Copper Vase" (April-May 1887), currently in the Musee d'Orsay.

Among his floral paintings, Vincent is most famous for his sunflowers and irises, but his repertoire contains much more than that. We know from a letter Theo wrote their mother that Vincent accepted flowers from acquaintances while living in Paris and painted them as a way to experiment with color harmonies. Before moving to the French capital, Vincent's palette had been earthy, but his time there led to explosions of color. This work, painted after Vincent had been living over a year in Paris, reveals his particular interest in complementary color pairs (here, blue and orange). One can also clearly see his exposure to pointillism and divisionism, mainly through his friendship with artist Paul Signac. He seems to have been proud of this picture, for unlike most of the Paris period floral still lifes, he signed it. Vincent hoped Theo would be able to sell the flower paintings, but unfortunately, that did not happen. We do know Vincent hung his floral still lifes in the Cafe Le Tambourin on the Boulevard de Clichy, an establishment owned by his then-lover, Agostina Segatori.

Happy Birthday, Vincent!

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