Vincent van Gogh
Vase with Zinnias and Geraniums
1886. Oil on canvas, 61 x 45.9 cm.
Purchased 1950; 5045. Lent by: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Vincent van Gogh's Vase with Zinnias and Geraniums was one of the first of over 50 floral canvases that he produced to document his initial response to the Parisian painting scene. After seeing the Impressionist group's final exhibition, he responded immediately to their avant-garde work, choosing the still-life genre to begin his own experimentation. Despite physical and personal challenges during these first months in the city, he produced a major body of work. The flowers are alive with a brilliant palette and animated brushwork, assuming a three-dimensional quality. On the advice of Camille Pissarro, van Gogh began painting directly onto the canvas without preliminary sketches. These works anticipate what was to come later, when his canvases erupted in even brighter colours and bold brush strokes. This work is one of three flower paintings in the National Gallery of Canada, which holds the only floral works by van Gogh in a Canadian collection.