Vincent creates many paintings and studies of objects indoors when he is trying new techniques or forced indoors by weather not conducive to painting outside in the open air. In Paris, he paints flowers, shoes, fruit and other items he has at his disposal or come at little charge. Through these still lifes, he experiments with color, shadowing and flatness, thickness and stroke of paint application among others.
Flowers in Paris in 1886 and 1887 were Vincent's favorite method of trying new colors and new color combinations as his palette lightened from the harmony of browns he sought in his landscapes of Holland. He paints flowers in the winter when he cannot paint outside, setting them in vases or bowls or cut and lying on a table in his and Theo's apartment at 54 Rue Lepic in Montmartre. Many of the arrangements he paints hung for a time on the walls of Le Tambourin, a restaurant managed by Agostina Segatori, a model in her younger days and a paramour of Vincent's for some months in 1886. Flowers were Vincent's path to the colors he will use in his most famous forthcoming works with perhaps the sunflower's yellow lighting the way to Arles.
In preparation of Gauguin's arrival in Arles, Vincent paints over a dozen sunflower canvases in a very prolific burst and perhaps has earned a place in history for his unique expression of their beauty and essence.