Van Gogh’s Yellow ‘Sunflowers’ Could Start to Turn Olive Green

  • 2018-06-07
  • The New York Times

The yellow petals and stems of Vincent van Gogh’s January 1889 version of "Sunflowers" in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam are microscopically wilting, say researchers at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands.

After examination of the pigments of the famous painting in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, researchers concluded that one of two chrome yellow pigments he used is sensitive to light and has a tendency to turn from very pale yellow to an almost olive green or ocher over time.

The researchers were able to examine “Sunflowers” at the Van Gogh Museum in 2016 using a new process of chemical mapping called Macroscopic X‐ray Powder Diffraction, which allows them to detect materials within the pigments of a painting without ever touching the painting. They received permission from the Van Gogh Museum to do the study and collaborated with the museum on the results.