Van Gogh began painting still lifes of flowers after moving to Paris in 1886. Here he depicts a basket of pansies on a stool with a seat in the shape of a tambourine. The stool was from the café Le Tambourin, whose furniture and other fittings were inspired by this instrument. For a time, van Gogh had a relationship with the owner of this establishment, Agostina Segatori.
This still life has been painted over another picture. Van Gogh scraped the paint away and then applied coats of black and white paint so that he could reuse the canvas.