Irises is a painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. It was one of his first
works while he was 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, 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."