Sunflowers are the subject of two series of still life paintings by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The earlier series executed in Paris in 1887 gives the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set executed a year later in Arles shows bouquets of sunflowers in a vase. In the artist's mind both sets were linked by the name of his friend Paul Gauguin, who acquired two of the Paris versions.
About eight months later Van Gogh hoped to welcome and to impress Gauguin again with Sunflowers, now part of the painted decoration he prepared for the guestroom of his Yellow House where Gauguin was supposed to stay in Arles.
After Gauguin's departure, Van Gogh imagined the two major versions as wings of the Berceuse Triptych, and finally he included them in his exhibit at Les XX in Bruxelles.
As Van Gogh anticipated in 1889,the Sunflowers finally became his, and served — combined with self-portraits — as his artistically arms and alter ego up to the present day: no retrospective Van Gogh exhibition since 1901 voluntarily missed including them, and a wealth of forgeries as well as record-setting price paid at auction acknowledges their public success: Perhaps, because Van Gogh's Sunflowers are more than his or him — they may be considered, as Gauguin put it, the flower.