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The Mythical Tale of the Sunflower

Updated: Jan 27


Full view image of my painting with title "Clytie"

Oil painting on canvas | Size: 45x35cm | 17,8’’x 13,8’’

My new painting is inspired by Greek mythology.

Sunflowers, with their vibrant yellow petals and towering stalks, have captured the hearts of many throughout history. Beyond their striking appearance, these flowers hold a captivating tale that dates back to ancient Greek mythology, adding an enchanting layer of meaning to their presence. The myth of Clytie and Helios not only offers a poignant explanation for the sunflower's behavior but also reflects themes of love, longing, and transformation.


In the ancient myth, Clytie, a water nymph, finds herself deeply enamored with Helios, the sun god radiating warmth and light across the world. Their love, however, takes a tragic turn when Helios chooses another goddess over Clytie. Heartbroken and devastated, Clytie watches as Helios traverses the sky in his resplendent golden chariot day after day, for an agonizing nine days. Her devotion is unwavering, and she refuses sustenance, her gaze fixed upon the celestial figure she loves.


This tale of unrequited love and unwavering devotion takes a bittersweet twist when Clytie undergoes a remarkable transformation. As her body weakens and her spirit persists, she is eventually metamorphosed into a sunflower, forever bound to follow the sun's path across the sky. The sunflower's enduring characteristic of turning its face towards the sun is a living testament to Clytie's eternal yearning and love for Helios.


Beyond the myth's emotional resonance, the sunflower's story has woven itself into the fabric of cultural symbolism and artistic expression. Its vibrant and cheerful appearance mirrors the sun's radiant energy, and its inclination towards the sun has led to associations with positivity, vitality, and fidelity. Artists, poets, and writers alike have drawn inspiration from the sunflower's captivating tale, using it as a metaphor for the pursuit of love, resilience, and embracing the light even in the face of adversity.


In our modern world, the myth of Clytie and Helios continues to enchant and resonate. The sunflower's enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless appeal and the universal themes it represents. As we gaze upon a field of sunflowers, their collective stance towards the sun becomes a reminder of the beauty in embracing life's challenges and seeking the light within ourselves, just as Clytie did in her eternal devotion to Helios.


This ancient tale of transformation, and unwavering devotion continues to captivate hearts and minds, resonating with those who find solace and inspiration in its symbolism. As we admire the sunflower's radiant beauty and witness its unique behavior, we are reminded of the enduring power of love, resilience, and the pursuit of light in even the darkest of times.


If you are interested in purchasing this original artwork feel free to send me a mail. Giclée prints are also available here.

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