Why is there a wooden strip on the canvas that Van Gogh used to paint his Sunflowers?
That’s what the conservator wanted to find out when she examined the painting in the Van Gogh Museum. The strip increases the size of the canvas, so was the change in the composition a decision of the artist himself?
An X-ray of the painting shows that the cross-hatched brushstrokes that Van Gogh used to paint the background of his still life continue onto the strip. Chemical analysis of the paint confirmed that the paint used on the strip was exactly the same as on the canvas. In other words, Van Gogh added the strip himself. But why?
Van Gogh probably realized while painting the still life that the flowers at the top were too close to the edge. To allow more ‘breathing space’ above the bouquet, he added a wooden strip. He then carried on painting.
X-ray of Sunflowers
The conservator found fingerprints in the paint at the top of the painting. Van Gogh must have gripped the still life here before the paint had dried completely.