Irises (painting)

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Original title, in French: Les Iris
Irises-Vincent van Gogh.jpg
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Year 1889
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 71 cm × 93 cm (28 in × ​36 58 in)
Location J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

Irises is one of many paintings and prints of irises by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Irises was painted while Vincent van Gogh was living at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890.

It was painted before his first attack at the asylum. There is a lack of the high tension which is seen in his later works. He called the painting "the lightning conductor for my illness" because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint.

The painting was influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints like many of his works and those by other artists of the time. The similarities occur with strong outlines, unusual angles, including close-up views, and also flattish local colour (not modelled according to the fall of light).

He considered this painting a study which is probably why there are no known drawings for it,[1] although Theo, Van Gogh's brother, thought better of it and quickly submitted it to the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in September 1889, together with Starry Night Over the Rhone. He wrote to Vincent of the exhibition: "[It] strikes the eye from afar. The Irises are a beautiful study full of air and life."

Ownership history

Its first owner was the French art critic and anarchist Octave Mirbeau who was also one of Van Gogh's first supporters. Mirbeau paid 300 francs for it.

In 1987, it became the most expensive painting ever sold, setting a record which stood for two and a half years.[2] Then it was sold for US$53.9 million to Alan Bond, but Bond did not have enough money to pay for it.[3] Irises was later re-sold in 1990 to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.[4] Irises is currently (as of 2012) tenth on the inflation-adjusted list of most expensive paintings ever sold and in 25th place if the effects of inflation are ignored.


  1. "Irises" J. Paul Getty Museum. Retrieved June 5, 2011
  2. Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82.5 million on May 15, 1990, at Christie's, New York
  3. "History for November 11". Retrieved 2012-11-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kimmelman, Michael. Getty buys van Gogh "Irises," but won't tell price. New York Times, March 22, 1990. Retrieved March 20, 2011.

External links