Two Van Gogh Sunflowers shown together at National Gallery for first time in 65 years

Can you spot the difference?

The National Gallery is set to invite art lovers to play “spot the difference” on a grand scale as two iconic Van Gogh paintings will be shown side-by-side in the UK for the first time in 65 years.

The National Gallery will display a “great treat for the public” hanging its own version of Sunflowers alongside that painted five months later that hangs in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Ella Hendriks, senior paintings conservator at the Van Gogh Museum, said: “When we came to hang these together it was a real eye-opener. It’s almost like a spot the difference game.”

She continued: “Looking at the slight differences in colour, the brush work and texturing. It’s a fantastic opportunity to discover the similarities and differences of the two versions.”

The two paintings will go on display tomorrow at the Trafalgar Square gallery until April 27.

Christopher Riopelle, curator of post-1800 paintings at the National Gallery, said: “One of the great fascinations of seeing them together is seeing the ways in which this brilliant artist working on his great theme extends, animates, reinvents the subject of the sunflower.”

“In the copy he’s varying the paint application, the difference in colour accents,” Ms Hendriks said. “They’re such powerful pictures. They’re so simple, but emotive.  His use of colour, forceful brushworks and thick application of paint seems a very direct way of working.”

The works will be shown alongside recent x-rays that revealed new information about the artist’s painting style and materials and finally confirmed which one was painted first.

Martin Bailey, author of The Sunflowers are Mine: The Story of Van Gogh’s Masterpiece, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It will encourage people to look more closely at them. We know them so well from reproduction that our eyes glaze over. Seeing the paintings in the flesh is so different from a reproduction.”

The National bought its version of the Sunflowers, one of the most popular works in the gallery and still the top-selling postcard, in 1924 from the artist’s family.

Mr Riopelle revealed that when the work was lent to the Van Gogh Museum for its re-opening, they received daily complaints from disgruntled visitors who had come to see it.

It has now paired it with the work that hangs in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for the first time in the UK in living memory. The last time was at Tate, now Tate Britain, in 1947. Both works are believed to be worth more than £100m each.

The research from the two institutions, which have worked together on the Sunflowers since the 1990s, has revealed new details about the pigment Van Gogh used and how he planned the works in charcoal. The x-ray also revealed a wooden slat, which the artist affixed after he painted one of the flowers too close to the top of the canvas.

These are two of five versions, with the others in Tokyo, Munich and Philadelphia. The National said the other works were too fragile to travel.

The series dates to 1888 when Van Gogh rented a house in Arles in the South of France. He painted the sunflowers while waiting for his friend Paul Gauguin to arrive.

Mr Riopelle said. “You’re seeing the National’s version done from nature in the summer, and the other… is the rethinking and carrying forward of the process. It is not in any way a copy,” adding it was a “more stylised and more coloured, extravagant version”.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory