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jueves, 28 de mayo de 2015


For nearly a century, Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh has been among the paintings most loved by the British public. According to Martin Bailey in his excellent book on the subject, The Sunflowers are Mine, the patch of floor in front of it “gets more scuffed” than that in front of any other work in the National Gallery, and its postcard outsells all others in the bookshop. Mrs Thatcher, displaying more enthusiasm than botanical precision on a visit to the museum, demanded to be shown “Van Gogh’s Chrysanthemums”, (and no curator dared correct her).
From today, there will be even more visitors’ feet on that much-used area of flooring, because the National Gallery’s Sunflowers is going to be reunited with another version of the same composition painted by Van Gogh a few months later, in what promises to be a remarkable exercise in artistic compare and contrast.
For, although the National Gallery’s picture is, in general estimation, the most important, daring and beautiful of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers it is by no means the only one. The artist, who lived from 1853 to 1890, tackled the theme on numerous occasions.
The flower that turns its bloom towards the sun has a long history as a symbol – of the Christian soul, among other things. In Britain, the sunflower motif was so popular with architects and designers of the Aesthetic movement that it was carved in stone and cast in metalwork that can still be seen across the city today. Before he became an artist, Van Gogh would have seen the emblem frequently during his early years in 1870s Britain, where he worked (unsuccessfully) as an art dealer, junior prep school master and lay preacher.

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