Irises 1889 by Vincent van Gogh | Oil Painting Reproduction
80 cm
Irises 1889
Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Size: 63 x 80 cm (24.8 x 31.5")
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Price: $323.00
Selected size: 63 x 80 cm (24.8 x 31.5")

Irises 1889 By Vincent van Gogh

Part of a series of paintings depicting irises, Van Gogh painted this work whilst residing at the mental asylum in the town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He died just over a year later, on 29 July 1890.

When did Vincent van Gogh paint Irises?

Painted in May 1889, Vincent van Gogh Irises is a work of astounding beauty and energy.

Created within a week of entering the asylum, the painting demonstrates the personal significance of irises to Van Gogh. The flowers were blooming in the asylum’s garden, an area patients could stroll around as part of their therapeutic recovery. 

Indeed, Van Gogh described this work as the “lightning conductor” for his illness. He felt continuing to paint was the only thing separating him from ultimate insanity.

Why did Van Gogh paint Irises?

Despite the symbolic importance of irises, this work (like most Van Gogh oil on canvas paintings) was a post-impressionist study in color. With a segmented background and vivid impasto paint, he created powerful color contrasts. 

Against the predominantly yellow, green and brown background, Van Gogh’s purple flowers stand out clearly and brightly.

Although they appear with predominantly blue tones today, Van Gogh’s pigments originally contained much more red (creating a strong purple hue). Over time however, the red pigments faded, resulting in the blue petals we currently see.

In creating this image, Van Gogh utilized Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints for inspiration. The large, flat planes of color (with little natural shading or depth) is typical of the style. Van Gogh’s strong black outlines, unusual angles, cropped composition and close-up view all further reference these prints. 

Despite the strong, dark outlines, Van Gogh presents the flowers with surprising softness and lightness. Each one of the flowers is entirely unique, carefully studied for their individual movements and shapes. 

Every petal twists, curls and blooms to form an image of utmost natural beauty. It’s poignant to reflect how full of life these flowers are, with no hints of the tragic events unfolding in Van Gogh’s personal life. 

What is special about Vincent van Gogh Irises?

In this Van Gogh irises painting, the flowers form an artistic study (rather than a finished composition in its own right). This explains why there are no preparatory sketches for the work, which frequently appeared in Van Gogh’s diaries and letters to his brother.

Despite Van Gogh’s own low opinion of the artwork, his brother Theo disagreed. Theo recognized its truly special quality immediately.

On witnessing the painting’s astounding beauty, Theo submitted the artwork to the Société des Artistes Indépendants. Accepted for the exhibition in September 1889, it was one of the few paintings publicly displayed during Van Gogh’s lifetime. 

Reflecting on the work, one art critic (Octave Mirbeau), opined how well Van Gogh understood “the exquisite nature of flowers”.

Sadly, Van Gogh was unable to see the positive public reaction to his paintings. Still residing in the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence asylum, Theo wrote to him, describing the painting’s strong impression on viewers. He described how it caught the eye, even “from afar” and was warmly received as a beautiful study “full of air and life.”

Today, the painting remains one of Van Gogh’s most famous artworks. It currently hangs in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, USA.

How many times did Van Gogh paint irises?

Van Gogh returned to the theme of irises many times throughout his artistic career. The exact number is unknown, however there are four famous iris paintings surviving today.

The flowers appear in oil on canvas impasto paintings as well as pencil sketches and illustrations on letters to his brother Theo. Although other Vincent van Gogh flower paintings (such as Sunflowers and Branches with Almond Blossom) are now better-known, irises were one of his personal favorites.

Especially during Van Gogh’s later troubled years in the asylum, irises were a frequent fascination. They are the focus of another work Vase with Irises (May 1890) depicting these stunning flowers set against a vivid pure yellow background. 

Whilst this painting treats the flowers in a more traditional “still life” format, the earlier May 1889 version (the topic of this description) presents the flowers in a much more natural, uncontrolled, even optimistic manner.

Other Van Gogh oil paintings featuring Irises include Field with Irises near Arles (1888) in which the flowers almost disappear into a yellow corn field. 

Irises (1890) also depicts the flowers set against a white background, sitting in a cool white vase on a gentle green surface. A much calmer, more contemplative work, it was amongst the last paintings created before Van Gogh’s suicide.

Vincent van Gogh flower paintings are available from our reproduction oil paintings catalogue.

Vincent van Gogh paintings are recongised for their use of bold colors, dramatic expressive brushstrokes and impasto painting. 

van Gogh is considered the greatest post-impressionist artist of all time but he lived a life of poverty and mental ill health. It is said that in a 10 year period he painted around 900 paintings although he only sold one painting during his short life.

In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother Theo van Gogh who was an art dealer. Whilst in Paris van Gogh became familiar with the new art movements of the time and he was greatly influenced by the work of the Impressionists artists and Japanese printmakers. Vincent van Gogh oil paintings display a reverence for Japanese art which is apparent in paintings such as Flowering Plum Orchard after Hiroshige 1887 and The Courtesan after Eisen 1887.

During the summer of 1888 van Gogh left Paris for southern France and whilst in Provence he painted scenes of Wheatfields, Cypress Trees, peasants and rustic life characteristic of the region. It was when he was living in Arles that he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues which we now associate with so many of his paintings.

All of our Van Gogh reproductions on canvas employ the impasto technique introduced by Van Gogh and which is seen in the majority of his paintings.

Van Gogh persuaded Paul Gauguin, whom he had met earlier in Paris to join him in Arles. It was a volatile friendship with one argument culminating in the now famous quarrel in which van Gogh wildly threatened Gauguin with a razor; the same night, in deep remorse, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear.

Van Gogh spent a year in the nearby Asylum of Saint-Remy but continued to paint between repeated spells of mental ill health. Vincent van Gogh's most famous painting The Starry Night 1899. The Starry Night 1899, was painted whilst he was in the Asylum, and depicts the view from his hospital room.

Starry Night over the Rhone was painted in 1888 and is another nighttime painting which was completed at Arles. This scene was just a short walk from The Yellow House at the Place Lamartine a Vincent van Gogh oil painting also completed in 1888.

On July 27 1890, shortly after completing Wheatfields with Crows Vincent shot himself and died two days later at the age of 37.

Famous van Gogh paintings include Irises 1889, The Cafe Terrace at Night. Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers, Vase With Twelve Sunflowers of which there are 12 in the series were painted in Arles during 1888 and 1889; Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers was sold at auction and set a record price for any artwork at that time.

Van Gogh canvas reproductions are for sale in many size options.

Discover our large catalog of van Gogh famous painting reproductions.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee or replacement service. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your painting please contact us within 7 days of receipt, advising the reason you are unhappy and we will provide you with all the information you need for its return or replacement.

We ship free to anywhere in the world via FedEx or DHL expedited service with online tracking.

Your painting will be shipped rolled in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and/or framing locally. This is the conventional method of transporting hand-painted oil on canvas. Learn more about how your painting is shipped.

We are able to offer a framing service intercontinental U.S. Please contact us if you would like a quotation. Alternatively, should you prefer, we can recommend a framer in your area.

Notes About Your Painting

Please note that replica oil paintings are finished with an additional 10cm (4") of extra canvas on all sides, allowing ample surplus canvas for stretching and framing.

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