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Van Gogh envisioned his sunflower works as a series and worked diligently on them in anticipation of the arrival in Arles of his friend, Paul Gauguin. In a letter to Emile Bernard written around 18 August 1888 Vincent wrote: "I am thinking of decorating my studio with half a dozen pictures of "Sunflowers", a decoration in which the raw or broken chrome yellows will blaze forth on various backgrounds--blue, from the palest malachite green to royal blue . . ."