Wednesday, 23 April 2014






My first attempt to see Van Gogh's Sunflowers was abandoned when I saw that queue wending out of the National Gallery and into Trafalgar Square ...
So this morning I made sure that I'd be there five minutes before the gallery opened.
And as I rounded the corner,  there was the queue ... down the steps, into Trafalgar Square.
But what do you know, they were all tourists and school parties, maybe it's like that every morning. And when the doors opened, they dispersed or stood in the entrance faffing about.
And so I moved like greased lightning ...
And queued for about two minutes to see The Sunflowers and stayed there for half an hour drinking them in.
I'm painting with the gusto of a Marseillais eating his bouillabaisse, which won't surprise you when it's a question of painting large SUNFLOWERS ...
I've seen both paintings before, but they haven't been seen together in London since 1947. (Can you imagine the queues if they ever brought all six of the surviving Sunflowers together?)
The National Gallery's Sunflowers from 1888, painted for Gauguin's bedroom, is the top image. The Amsterdam copy below dates from January, 1889.
I pondered ... I think I prefer ours. (The glass was slightly more intrusive on the Dutch painting.)
And then I thought about the day a few years ago, when I spent an afternoon locked in a vault at the Van Gogh Museum ...
And held the letter to his brother - feasibly blood-stained, or maybe just spotted with age -  that was found in Vincent's pocket after he shot himself, just 18 months or so after completing his Sunflowers. It felt at the same time shockingly intrusive and such an intimate connection more than a century on.



I wonder if I'll ever get the chance to see the rarest Sunflowers of all, hidden away in a private collection? It did cross my mind on St George's Day that, queues or not, how lucky we are to have such wonderful free exhibitions.

4 comments:

Lucille said...

How vibrant the green and turquoise are. I've never even seen a reproduction of that one before.

mary said...

It's so different from the others, isn't it? Don't suppose we'll ever get to see it, Lucille.

Toffeeapple said...

Locked in a vault? Gosh!
Personally, I have not been fond of the Sunflowers but most of his other work makes me cry; thinking of how cut off he must have felt.

Thank you, Mary.

mary said...

I always think the boots are very poignant, Toffeeapple.