GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)

Fritillaries in a Copper Vase

April-May 1887, Paris
Oil on canvas, 74 x 61 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Catalogue numbers: F 213, JH 1247.

Van Gogh arrived in Paris in March 1886. Although he was able to see a considerable amount of contemporary French painting by the Impressionists and their followers - Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte was exhibited twice in 1886 - he took little notice for at least a year. As a letter written to an English artist he had met in Antwerp reveals, he continued with what he had been doing in Antwerp. He enrolled again in an atelier, where he could draw and paint the nude from plaster casts and live models.

Since he could ill afford to hire models, he painted large numbers of still-lifes of flowers in order to study the colour theory of Hals and Delacroix. He wrote that he was 'trying to render intense colour and not a grey harmony'. The present painting indicates to what extent he had accomplished this aim. It also demonstrates the now varied ways in which he applied his paint: dashes in the background to break up the blue field of the wall, directional brushstrokes on the table, impasto highlights on the metal vase. The plant itself is virtually drawn in colour; each leaf is a separate stroke and the heads of the flowers are depicted with more voluptuous and solid sweeps of paint.

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