Catalogue numbers: F 454, JH 1562.
Van Gogh prepared for Gauguin's visit to Arles by painting a series of canvases to decorate the Yellow House. Out of this project came a sequence of paintings of sunflowers. They are important as a series, and are more than just interior decoration. Firstly, in these paintings van Gogh demonstrated a further aspect of his current studies of colour. They are painted mainly in variations on a single colour: yellow. However, instead of using violet, yellow's complementary, for contrast, he has introduced blue. Rigorous application of theory broke down in the face of a preference for this theoretically arbitrary combination. Its appeal lay in the fact that it had been used by a seventeenth-century Dutch artist much on van Gogh's mind in Arles, Vermeer. Repeatedly van Gogh associated Vermeer with yellow and blue.
Tintoretto painted The Presentation of Christ in the Temple for the right-hand interior wall of the choir of the church of Santa Maria Assunta del Crociferi (today the Chiesa dei Gesuiti) in Venice. The pictorial ornamentation of Santa Maria Assunta dei Crociferi was in part commissioned and was tended by the minor lay confraternities of the vicinity who saw to the upkeep of the altars and tombs in the church. The Scuola dei Botteri (Confraternity of Coopers) commissioned The Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Their memorial slab in the Chiesa dei Gesuiti still shows the emblem, a small cask, that is visible on the steps of The Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
Catalogue numbers: F 98, JH 901.
During the summer of 1885 van Gogh decided to prepare a multi-figure genre scene by chalk drawings depicting peasants working on the fields, following the example of Jean-François Millet. Due to the negative criticism of his The Potato Eaters, he abandoned the stiffness and flatness of his figures and he took more care in modelling. In July, he tried his new style on some small studies in oil. We know about ten such paintings, most of which depict peasants digging, or potato planting, or harvesting. The present painting in Antwerp is one of these studies.