Mine, In a Way

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”

Vincent Van Gogh


Offering to Flora, Juan van der Hamne, 1627


The Sunflower. Engraving from Erasmus Francisci’s Ost- und West-Indischer wie auch Sinesischer Lust- und Stats-Garten in drey Haupt-Theile unterschieden.., 1668


Peacocks, Melchior d’ Hondecoeter, 1683


Small butterfly and sunflower, Ohara Koson, no date


Studio of Sir Kenelm Digby, Anthony van Dyck, c. 1630


Selbstporträt mit Sonnenblume (Self Portrait With a Sunflower), Anthony van Dyck, after 1633


Marquise Athenais de Montespan or Montespan en déshabillée, school of Pierre Mignard, c. 1670


Portrait of Elizabeth Claypole, Jacob Huysmans, 1680


Misses Wilson, James Sant, 1875


Bouquet of Sunflowers, Claude Monet, 1881


Tournesols, Claude Monet, 1881


Clytie, Evelyn De Morgan, 1887


Vase of Sunflowers, Henri Matisse, 1898


The Four Seasons (Summer), Alphons Mucha, 1898


Brita,a Cat and a Sandwich, Carl Larsson, 1898


Hide and Seek, Carl Larsson, c. 1900


Eighteen Years Old!, Carl Larsson, 1902


Farm Garden with Sunflowers, Gustave Klimt, 1905


Sonnenblume (Girasol), Gustav Klimt, 1907


Sunflowers, Piet Mondrian, 1907


Dying Sunflower, Piet Mondrian, c. 1908


Sonnenblume, Egon Schiele, 1909


Welke Sonnenblume, Egon Schiele, 1912


Welke Sonnenblumen, Egon Schiele, 1914


Sonnenblumen, Egon Schiele, 1916


Versunkene Landschaft, Paul Klee, 1918


Mature Sunflowers, Emil Nolde, 1932


Sunflowers, Sir Jacob Epstein, c. 1936


A Sunflower from Maggie, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1937


Girasoles (Sunflowers) Diego Rivera, 1943


Sunflowers at Choisel, Georges Braque, 1946


Composition with Sunflowers, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1949


Die Sonnenblumen und die (The Sunflowers and The City), Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1949


Le Tournesol, Fernand Léger, 1953


Cover for International Textiles, René Gruau, 1955


Sunflowers for Jonathan, David Hockney, 1995


The Orders of the Night (Die Orden der Nacht), Anselm Kiefer, 1996


Untitled (Sunflowers), Glenn Goldberg, 1999


Hommage a van Gogh, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, c. 1998


Sunflower in Grey and Green no.1, Jimmy Wright, 2008


In the Ambiguous Realm of the Undetermined

Butterflies, Odilon Redon, around 1910


Odilon Redon‘s work represents an exploration of his internal feelings and psyche. He himself wanted to “place the visible at the service of the invisible”; thus, although his work seems filled with strange beings and grotesque dichotomies, his aim was to represent pictorially the ghosts of his own mind. A telling source of Redon’s inspiration and the forces behind his works can be found in his journal A Soi-même (To Myself). His process was explained best by himself when he said:

“I have often, as an exercise and as a sustenance, painted before an object down to the smallest accidents of its visual appearance; but the day left me sad and with a not satiated thirst. The next day I let the other source run, that of imagination, through the recollection of the forms and I was then reassured and appeased.”

The mystery and the evocation of Redon’s drawings are described by Joris-Karl Huysmans in the following passage:

“Those were the pictures bearing the signature: Odilon Redon. They held, between their gold-edged frames of unpolished pear wood, undreamed-of images: a Merovingian-type head, resting upon a cup; a bearded man, reminiscent both of a Buddhist priest and a public orator, touching an enormous cannon-ball with his finger; a spider with a human face lodged in the centre of its body. Then there were charcoal sketches which delved even deeper into the terrors of fever-ridden dreams. Here, on an enormous die, a melancholy eyelid winked; over there stretched dry and arid landscapes, calcined plains, heaving and quaking ground, where volcanos erupted into rebellious clouds, under foul and murky skies; sometimes the subjects seemed to have been taken from the nightmarish dreams of science, and hark back to prehistoric times; monstrous flora bloomed on the rocks; everywhere, in among the erratic blocks and glacial mud, were figures whose simian appearance—heavy jawbone, protruding brows, receding forehead, and flattened skull top—recalled the ancestral head, the head of the first Quaternary Period, the head of man when he was still fruitful and without speech, the contemporary of the mammoth, of the rhinoceros with septate nostrils, and of the giant bear. These drawings defied classification; unheeding, for the most part, of the limitations of painting, they ushered in a very special type of the fantastic, one born of sickness and delirium.”

À rebours, chapter V

Redon also describes his work as ambiguous and undefinable:

“My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.”