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Irises by Vincent van Gogh

Irises-Vincent van Gogh

Irises by Vincent van Gogh

“Irises” is one of several paintings of irises by Vincent van Gogh and one of a series of paintings he painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, in the last year before his death.

In 1889 after several episodes of self-mutilation and hospitalisation, Van Gogh chose to enter an asylum. There, in the last year before his death, he created over 120 paintings. Shortly after entering the asylum, Van Gogh started Irises, working from nature in the asylum’s garden. He called painting “the lightning conductor for my illness” because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint.

Each one of the irises is unique, for he studied their movements and shapes to create a variety of curved silhouettes. The patterning of Japanese woodblock prints influenced the composition of vivid colour with irises overflowing into the canvas borders.

Van Gogh’s brother Theo submitted Irises for exhibition stating:

“It strikes the eye from afar. It is a beautiful study full of air and life.”

In 1987, Irises became the most expensive painting ever sold, setting a record which stood for two and a half years. “Irises” is amongst the most expensive paintings ever sold.

Other Iris’ paintings during 1889 by Vincent van Gogh include the following:

Vincent van Gogh - Irises (1890)

Irises at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh - Irises - Google Art Project

Irises at the Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh - Iris

“Iris” at the National Gallery of Canada


  • Which version of Irises by Vincent van Gogh is your favourite?
  • Van Gogh felt that painting kept him from going insane. Do we all need a purpose to keep going?

Exploring Vincent van Gogh


  • Title:                   Irises
  • Artist:                 Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                   1889
  • Place Created:   Saint-Rémy, France
  • Medium:            Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions       71 cm × 93 cm (28 in × 36 5⁄8 in)
  • Museum:           Getty Museum

Vincent Willem van Gogh


“The best way to know God is to love many things.” – Vincent van Gogh


Photo Credit: Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons