Van Gogh: Sunflower Variations

Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' series of paintings demonstrate 3 major types of activity in Western Art: 1) Theme and variations, 2) Arranging (re-arranging the source material) and 3) Tinkering.

Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' version 1. Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' version 3.

You can commission this work or any of the Van Gogh Sunflowers, in any size. Why not collect all twelve?

Firstly they may be regarded as a 'theme and variations', just as Brahms composed 'Variations on a theme of G.F. Handel' for orchestra, or his 'Variations on a theme of Paganini' for solo piano.

The process of arranging is also a time-honoured method of learning the craft. For years I have performed with my String Quartet Vivaldi's Concerto in D, Op.3 No.9. Not having access to Vivaldi's score, I arranged this work from J.S. Bach's keyboard arrangement! This is analogous to the various tonal and compostitional sketches one does when preparing a painting.


Peter Inglis and his ensemble perform his arrangement of "Autumn" from the Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", 1st movement.

They also demonstrate the composer/artist's proclivity for 'tinkering'. In a sense the composition is never finished. It is never complete, or perfect. What we are left with in the painting or the score is a snapshot in time. This is what the author had to say on the subject at that particular time.

These are not stone tablets, they are very human, and therefore subject to continuous improvement!

Thirdly they demonstrate the art of arranging. This is where Brahms has taken a piece written for solo violin, like Paganini's Caprice No.24, and arrange it for piano. Or a piece for clavier like Handel's 'Harmonious Blacksmith' variations and arrange them for 100 piece orchestra. That is a major piece of arranging!

The arranger in the case of Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' was Emile Schuffenecker, an artist himself, who was one of the first to start collecting Van Gogh.

But acting in the established tradition of Western Art he didn't merely collect, he also 'improved' the works!

So, in the tradition of Bach, Brahms and Schuffenecker, here are some of my variations on Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' (1888-89)

Variations om Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' painted by Peter Inglis. Sydney, Australia. Variations om Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' painted by Peter Inglis. Sydney, Australia. Variations om Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' painted by Peter Inglis. Sydney, Australia. Variations om Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' painted by Peter Inglis. Sydney, Australia.
A few of my variations on Van Gogh's variations!

Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' version 1.
Our first Van Gogh Sunflower painting is this simpler version, with only 3 flowers. When you have accomplished that, you will have much more success with version 3, which has 14 flowers!

Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' version 3.