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The Genealogy of Style

Le Peintre de Tournesols


In November 1888, Paul Gauguin painted Vincent van Gogh in The Painter of Sunflowers (Le Peintre de Tournesol). The two had been living together in a yellow house in the small town of Arles in southern France. Van Gogh, who had arrived in Arles first, painted a series of sunflowers to decorate the guest room in anticipation of Gauguin joining him. When Gauguin did arrive, he did indeed enjoy the paintings. After the two had parted ways, Gauguin wrote to Vincent requesting that he may keep one of the paintings, calling them a “perfect page of an essential ‘Vincent’ style.”

Being a portrait, it is a representation of a man in a specific time. By late November, tension was starting to develop between Gauguin and van Gogh. Two strong personalities living in such close quarters was taking its toll. Vincent especially was working at…

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