Between March 1886 and February 1888, Vincent van Gogh shared an apartment on Rue Lepic with his brother Theo, who managed a branch of the art gallery Boussod, Valadon & Cie. He discovered Impressionism and wooed La Segatori, an Italian woman who ran the Café Le Tambourin, offering her still-lifes of flowers rather than bouquets that were doomed to wither.
His stay in Paris was a happy time in Vincent van Gogh's life and this can be felt in his colour palette, which was more joyful and open, playing with complementary colours.
In around September 1886, the year in which he painted these spectacular fritillaries, he wrote to Horace M. Livens, an English painter:
"as far as my work goes, although I had devoted myself entirely to figurative painting, I no longer had enough money to pay for models. But I have painted a series of colour studies by depicting simple flowers: red poppies, cornflowers and forget-me-nots, white and pink roses, yellow chrysanthemums, contrasting blue and orange, red with green, yellow with purple, looking for faded and neutral tones to harmonise brutal extremes. Trying to render an intense colour and not a grey harmony (...) As we used to say: look for the life in the colour; real drawing is about sculpting with colour."
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