Irises

Object Details

Title:

Irises

Artist/Maker(s):

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 - 1890)

Culture:

Dutch

Place(s):

Saint-Rémy, France (Place created)

Date:

1889

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

74.3 x 94.3 cm (29 1/4 x 37 1/8 in.)

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In May 1889, after episodes of self-mutilation and hospitalization, Vincent van Gogh chose to enter an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France. There, in the last year before his death, he created almost 130 paintings. Within the first week, he began Irises, working from nature in the asylum's garden. The cropped composition, divided into broad areas of vivid color with monumental irises overflowing its borders, was probably influenced by the decorative patterning of Japanese woodblock prints.

There are no known drawings for this painting; Van Gogh himself considered it a study. His brother Theo quickly recognized its quality and submitted it to the Salon des Indépendants in September 1889, writing Vincent of the exhibition: "[It] strikes the eye from afar. It is a beautiful study full of air and life."

Each one of Van Gogh's irises is unique. He carefully studied their movements and shapes to create a variety of curved silhouettes bounded by wavy, twisting, and curling lines. The painting's first owner, French art critic Octave Mirbeau, one of Van Gogh's earliest supporters, wrote: "How well he has understood the exquisite nature of flowers!"

Provenance
- 1892

Julien Tanguy (Père), 1825 - 1894 (Paris, France), sold to Octave Mirbeau, 1892.

1892 - 1905

Octave Mirbeau, 1848 - 1917 (Paris, France), sold to Auguste Pellerin, 1905.

1905 -

Auguste Pellerin, 1852 - 1929 (Paris, France)

Galerie Bernheim Jeune (Paris, France)

1925 - 1929

Jacques Doucet, 1853 - 1929 (Paris, France; Neuilly sur Seine, France), by inheritance to his wife, Mme. Jacques Doucet.

1929 - 1938/1939

Mme. Jacques Doucet (Neuilly-sur-Seine, France), sold to Jacques Seligmann et Fils, 1938/1939.

1938/1939 - 1945/1946

Jacques Seligmann et Fils (Paris, France; New York, New York), sold to M. Knoedler & Co., possibly 1945/1946.

1945/1946 - 1947

Knoedler & Company, 1846 - 2011 (London, England; New York, New York; Paris, France), sold to Joan Whitney Payson, 1947.

1947 - 1975

Joan Whitney Payson, 1903 - 1975, by inheritance to her son, John Whitney Payson, 1975.

1975 - 1987

John Whitney Payson [sold, Sotheby's, New York, November 11, 1987, lot 25, to Alan Bond.]

1987 - 1990

Alan Bond (Perth, Australia), returned to Sotheby's (New York), 1990.

1990

Sotheby's (New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum by private treaty sale, 1990.

Exhibitions
Salon des Indépendants (September 3 to October 4, 1889) (Cat. 273)
  • Salle de la Société d'Horticulture, (Paris), September 3 to October 4, 1889
Exposition Vincent van Gogh (March 15 to March 31, 1901) (Cat. 31)
  • Galerie Bernheim Jeune, (Paris), March 15 to March 31, 1901
Exposition rétrospective: Vincent van Gogh (Salon des Indépendants) (March 24 to April 30, 1905) (Cat. 32)
  • Grandes Serres de la Ville de Paris, March 24 to April 30, 1905
Cinquante ans de peinture française, 1875-1925 (May 28 to July 12, 1925) (Cat. 79)
  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs, (Paris), May 28 to July 12, 1925
L'Époque française de Van Gogh (June to July, 1927) (no cat. no.)
  • Galerie Bernheim Jeune, (Paris), June to July, 1927
Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh (November 1929) (Cat. 95)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York), November to November, 1929
Exposition d'oeuvres importantes de grand maîtres du dix-neuvième siècle (May 18 to June 27, 1931) (Cat. 44)
  • Galerie Paul Rosenberg, (Paris), May 18 to June 27, 1931
L'Impressionnisme (June 15 to September 29, 1935) (Cat. 95)
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels), June 15 to September 29, 1935
Van Gogh: Exposition internationale de 1937, Groupe I, Classe III (June to October, 1937) (Cat. 41)
  • Palais de Tokyo (Paris), June to October, 1937
Paintings by Van Gogh (September 18 to November 28, 1942) (Cat. 19)
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art, (Baltimore), September 18 to October 18, 1942
  • Worcester Art Museum, (Worcester), October 28 to November 28, 1942
The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh (October 6 to November 7, 1943) (Cat. 44)
  • Wildenstein & Company, (New York), October 6 to November 7, 1943
Van Gogh: Fourteen Masterpieces (March 30 to April 17, 1948) (Cat. 11)
  • Knoedler & Company, (New York), March 30 to April 17, 1948
Trends in European Painting, 1880 - 1930 (1949) (5)
  • The Century Association, (New York), 1949
From Goya to Wyeth: The Joan Whitney Payson Collection (September 13 to December 9, 1980) (Cat. 33)
  • Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, (Kyoto), September 13 to October 12, 1980
  • Isetan Museum of Art, (Tokyo), October 17 to December 9, 1980
A Day in the Country: Impressionism and the French Landscape / L'impressionnisme et le paysage français (June 28, 1984 to April 22, 1985) (Cat. 90)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (Los Angeles), June 28 to September 16, 1984
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, October 23, 1984 to January 6, 1985
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), February 8 to April 22, 1985
Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers (November 25, 1986 to March 22, 1987) (Cat. 1)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), November 25, 1986 to March 22, 1987
Irises and Five Masterpieces (June 29 to September 3, 1989) (no cat. no.)
  • National Gallery of Australia, (Canberra), June 29 to July 9, 1989
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, (Sydney), July 14 to July 23, 1989
  • Queensland Art Gallery, (South Brisbane), July 28 to August 6, 1989
  • National Gallery of Victoria, (Melbourne), August 11 to August 20, 1989
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia, (Perth), August 25 to September 3, 1989
Vincent's Irises (January 19 to March 21, 1999) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 19 to March 21, 1999
Van Gogh's Iris: Masterpiece in Focus (June 11 to September 19, 1999) (no cat.)
  • National Gallery of Canada, (Ottawa), June 11 to September 19, 1999
Related Media
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    Audio: Irises / Finsten - English (Highlights) - Level 1
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    Audio: Irises (Descriptions)
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    Audio: Irises / Finsten (ed.) (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - Korean (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - Portuguese (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - Mandarin (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - Italian (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - Japanese (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - Spanish (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - French (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - German (Highlights)
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    Audio: Irises - English (Highlights)