Still Life - Vase with Pink Roses Vincent van Gogh Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Vincent Van Gogh completed Still Life - Vase with Pink Roses in 1890 when he was about to leave the Saint-Remy asylum. The artist was moving from the hospital to a new residence in Auvers-Sur-Oise.

Van Gogh was feeling optimistic about his release from the institution and did several pieces to show that. This painting is considered the largest still life pieces by the artist. It is one of the few paintings where Van Gogh used roses as subjects. The painter left the two pieces he did at the asylum behind so they could dry and received them on June 24.

A Beautiful Bouquet

The Van Gogh still life features a brown vase filled with pink roses. The flower bunch has furled roses and leaves that contrast attractively against the background. Although the original colour of the rose was pink, they seem to have lost it here. In the painting, the roses only retain a slight shade of pink. The hue plays well off the rich green of the leaves and stems. A light green background, which appears to be a wall, has a dash of white that blends with the flower petals. The base where the vase sits is also green but a different shade from the wall. Van Gogh played with the colours to present a lively flower bouquet. Even though the roses are not pink anymore, they look well cared for.

Van Gogh and Flowers

The French artist has many paintings featuring flowers, such as Irises, Still Life with Anemones and Still Life with Carnations. When in Paris, the artist received bouquets from friends to use for his still life paintings. Cherry blossom, irises and sunflowers are some of the common options that Van Gogh painted. He loved the bright colours that he was able to paint with these flowers. Roses were a new subject for him.

Van Gogh had a special connection with flowers throughout his career. During his stay at the asylum, he told his mother that it was important for a person's health to work in the garden and witness the flowers blooming. As he painted the still life, Van Gogh wrote to his sister that he was "working like a madman" during his last days at the asylum. The artist told his sister that he had great bouquets - violet-coloured irises and great bouquets of roses.

The Use of Colour

Van Gogh associated different colours with emotions and represented that in his artwork. He once equated the use of colour in pictures to enthusiasm in life. In this still life, the green depicts growth and vitality. It was a representation of how the artist was feeling about the life waiting for him outside. He was famous for blending complementary colours to create sharp contrasts, and this piece is no exception. The National Gallery of Art owns Still Life - Vase with Pink Roses. Another similar piece that Van Gogh did during the time, Pink Roses is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on display.