Destroyed Van Gogh Artworks
In over 120 years since Van Gogh’s death and among his over 2,000 known works, it is incredible that only six works have been recorded as destroyed. Although some of his earliest works were destroyed by the artist himself because they did not meet with his expectations, today the majority of Van Gogh’s works are carefully preserved in museums and private collections. All of the six of the destroyed works were destroyed in fires many of which took place during World War II.
Van Gogh’s painting Still Life: Vase with Five Sunflowers was created as part of the decoration for the
Studio of the South in anticipation of creating a studio space that he and Gauguin could work in which was decorated with sunflowers. He wrote the following to his brother Theo in August of 1888,
“I have three canvases going - 1st, three huge flowers in a green vase, with a light background, a size 15 canvas; 2nd, three flowers, one gone to seed, having lost its petals, and one a bud against a royal-blue background, size 25 canvas; 3rd, twelve flowers and buds in a yellow vase (size 30 canvas). The last one is therefore light on light, and I hope it will be the best. Probably I shall not stop at that. Now that I hope to live with Gauguin in a studio of our own, I want to make decorations for the studio. Nothing but big flowers.”
Unfortunately, in 1945 this piece was destroyed by fire in an American air raid on Japan. At the time this work was in the private collection of Koyata Yamamoto. It is said that the painting had such a large frame which made it too difficult to remove from the wall during the fire.
In a letter to Theo from August 14, 1888, Vincent wrote about 35 studies he was sending to Theo including his painting The Painter on His Way to Work (also called The Painter on the Road to Tarascon):
“For instance, there is a rough sketch I made of myself laden with boxes, props, and canvas on the sunny road to Tarascon.”
This painting was also destroyed by fire during World War II. Artist Francis Bacon reinterpreted this painting and painted several versions of it in the 1950s.
Despite the fact that these works have been destroyed, we are happy to be able to share images of these online with our visitors. View the full list of destroyed Van Gogh paintings below.
Van Gogh Letter August 21, 1888
Van Gogh Letter August 14, 1888