The “Sunflowers” painting will stay in Amsterdam, as the Van Gogh Museum has decided never to loan it out again. “Sunflowers” is one in the series of seven paintings that Vincent Van Gogh created in the late 1880’s in Arles. The four other sunflower paintings are in museums in different parts of the world, one of them is owned by a US private collector, and one was destroyed during the Second World War.
The Amsterdam museum’s painting has been undergoing broad conservation efforts since the year 2016. In January 2019, the museum took the painting to its conservation studio as part of the last phase of the research into its condition. The museum officials concluded in the process that while the paint of “Sunflowers” is stable, it is still “very sensitive to vibrations and changes in humidity and temperature.” That is why the museum took the decision to ground the artwork rather than exposing it to any fluctuations in temperature or undue movements.
“From now on, this highlight of our collection will stay at home in Amsterdam, available for all of our visitors to see every day of the year,” the Van Gogh Museum Director, Axel Rueger, said in a press conference. Those on a private Van Gogh Museum tour will be able to see “Sunflowers” from February 22, 2019, onward.
The canvas’s state was not the only thing researchers gleaned from the conservation work done recently. With computer analysis of its fabric weave, researchers determined which linen roll Vincent van Gogh used to create the artwork. As per the reports of “The Art Newspaper”, eight other 1889 paintings came from that same roll, which was used shortly after the artist was released from the hospital. The Amsterdam version of the painting is created from another one in the series, which Vincent had painted from life. For it, the artist changed the color of the background and made other slight variations.
Researchers also learned the artist himself painted the yellow wood piece at the canvas’s top, which made it the original composition’s part, not added later on. Besides, the analysis shed light on past conservation techniques to an extent. The team of researchers determined that many varnish layers were later added to “Sunflowers”, which since accumulated dirt and yellowed. It is not possible to remove the varnish, which is bonded with its paint.
Some Van Gogh paints that have naturally darkened or faded in the past century also affected the painting’s coloration and brightness. Over time, its colors will change more. While little can be done in order to reverse this natural trend, when “Sunflowers” goes back on the display later this month, the Van Gogh Museum will reduce lights that will shine on it down to fifty lux, which is lesser than the amount that illuminated it previously.