30cm x 40cm
Irises is one of several paintings of irises by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, and is one of a series of paintings he made at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole shelter in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, last year before his death in 1890.
Van Gogh began painting Irises within a week of entering the shelter, in May 1889, working naturally in the hospital garden. There is a lack of high complexity reflected in his recent works. He called painting “my lightning driver” because he felt he could keep himself crazy by continuing to paint.
The painting may have been influenced by Japanese wood carvings as well as by many of his contemporaries. Similarities occur with solid frames, irregular angles, including close-up views, and brightly colored area (imitated by light). The painting is full of softness and light. Irises is full of life without disaster.
He views the painting as a possible study of why there are no well-known paintings, though Theo, Van Gogh’s brother, thinks better of it and immediately sent it to the annual Société des Artistes Indépendants exhibition in September 1889, and Stryry Night across the Rhone. He wrote to Vincent about the show: “[Blows] the eye from afar. Irises is a beautiful lesson full of spirit and life.” Painting is one of his most famous works.
The first owner was Julien “Père” Tanguy, a paint mill and art dealer named Van Gogh who painted three times. In 1892 Tanguy sold Irises to art critic and Octave Mirbeau who was 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 that lasted two and a half years. It was later sold for US $ 53.9 million to Alan Bond, but Bond did not have enough money to pay for it. Irises was resold in 1990 at J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Irises currently (since 2012) ranks 10th in the revised list of the most expensive paintings ever sold and ranks 25th if the effects of inflation are ignored.