Comparing and Contrasting Van Gogh's paintings with Life. Vincent van Gogh's paintings of sunflowers have amused thousands of people since he first painted them in 1887-1889. Although they reside as wonderful pieces of artwork, how accurate are they when compared to actual sunflowers. Perhaps some differences between his sunflowers and real life sunflowers are what attract us to his paintings.


To the left you can see an actual sunflower and one of Van Gogh's infamous sunflower paintings. There are some aspects that are clearly different.

  • 1.  In bubble number one you can see a difference in petal structure. The real sunflowers petals are wider and maintain their "thickness" until a triangular, blunt tip. While in Van Gogh's paintings the petals gradually shrinks into the tip. This exaggerated skinny aspect is visible in all of Van Gogh's sunflower Paintings.

  • 2.  The center "eye" in bubble number two of the real sunflower is one consistent color. While in Van Gogh's paintings the center is two colors.

  • 3.  The stem on the actual sunflower in bubble number three is very large and bulky, with leaf matter protruding near the head of the sunflower. However in Van Gogh's paintings the stems have a semi exaggerated skinny aspect and rarely contain leaf matter near the head.

  • 4.  Once again, as seen in bubble number 1, bubble number four displays the difference in how the leafs in the actual sunflower hold their bulk till a triangular tip, and the leafs in Van Gogh's paintings gradually reach the tip. Another skinny aspect.

In Van Gogh's painting above, you can see one more circled area that does not have a partner circle in the actual sunflower picture. This circle contains a sunflower head that does not look like the stereotypical sunflower. There seems to be one yellow mass that en-circles the full circumference of the eye, without distinct petals.


In the image you can see an actual wilted sunflower and two of Van Gogh's paintings of wilted sunflowers. The real sunflower and his paintings are fairly similar, excluding minor hue differences.

Finally, it is difficult to say how accurate Van Gogh's paintings are. This is due to the various stages that sunflowers go through, endless genetic features, and natural flaws. The unrealistic aspects of his paintings could be quite realistic when examined through the right variables.