Sunflowers in 19th Century Art & Prose

Arguably best known for his sunflowers, there was one Vincent van Gogh thought better.

That painter was Claude Monet.

In a letter to his brother, van Gogh wrote: “[Paul] Gauguin was telling me the other day that he had seen a picture by Claude Monet of sunflowers in a large Japanese vase, very fine, but – he likes mine better. I don’t agree.”

Will you? For many Victorian artists captured the blooms to canvas and each is as unique as the flowers themselves.


Vincent van Gogh painting sunflowers by Paul Gauguin, 1888.

The sunflower is mine, in a way.  – Vincent van Gogh


Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.


Vase of Sunflowers by Henri Matisse, 1898.

And the yellow sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood.

William C. Bryant

Gustave Caillebotte, Sunflowers along the Seine, ca. 1885-86

Sunflowers Garden At Petit Gennevilliers by Gustave Caillebotte, 1885.


Bouquet of Sunflowers by Claude Monet, 1881.

Flowers have an expression. . . Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock. – Henry Ward Beecher

What is it you love about sunflowers?  

9 thoughts on “Sunflowers in 19th Century Art & Prose

Add yours

  1. Van Gogh and Gaugin had a contentious relationship. Maybe Vincent’s comment to his brother Theo was fueled by that animosity when he made the statement about his Sunflower painting. All of the Sunflower works shown here are beautifully captured in paint and canvas. Beautiful.

    1. Ann, perhaps it is as you write. Do you not find it dreadful that one cannot visit another era and discover the answers first-hand? There are many historical figures we’d seek who could easily solve these mysteries.

      Thank you ever so much for sharing a moment of your day here on our blog.

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