Van Gogh sunflowers to be reunited at National Gallery exhibition

Two of the most recognisable paintings in the world, a pair of sunflower canvases by Vincent Van Gogh, are to be brought together for the first time in 65 years at an exhibition at the National Gallery in London next year.

The paintings are two of five original canvases that Van Gogh painted to decorate the bedroom of his guest, fellow artist Paul Gaugin, who stayed with Van Gogh in Arles in the south of France in winter 1888.

The National Gallery already owns one of the two iconic paintings, which it bought directly from Van Gogh’s sister-in-law in 1924. The second is on loan from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. The pair will then travel back to Amsterdam for an exhibition there.

A prolific letter writer, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo to describe the creation of the sunflowers in August 1888, read: “I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won’t surprise you when you know that what I’m at is the painting of some sunflowers. If I carry out this idea there will be a dozen panels. So the whole thing will be a symphony in blue and yellow. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly. I am now on the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers. It gives a singular effect.”

The National Gallery’s is that fourth painting.

The Sunflowers is at the National Gallery, London, from 25 January – 27 April 2014

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