Irises by Vincent Van Gogh

By Tuesday, April 11, 2017 ,

Van Gogh is known for his famous sunflowers. And though his sunflowers are immemorable and amazingly beautiful, we often forget about the other paintings he did inspired by nature like cypresses and irises. 

He did a number of paintings with irises as the main subject, but this one is particularly stunning and different from all the others. May be that’s the reason why its one of the 10 most expensive paintings in the world. 






About Irises by Vincent Van Gogh


Van Gogh was inspired by Japanese woodblock prints, and that is pretty prevalent in his other paintings. But in this painting there is a subtle hint to the Japanese art form. 

Van Gogh used black outlines all round the irises, which is a pretty common element of Japanese woodblock paintings. It is said that he used the black outlining to help bring out the elements more clearly. 


In case you didn’t notice, there are some yellow flowers in the back as well. Though, I am not sure if those are sunflowers. They definitely don’t look as full as the other sunflowers that Van Gogh has painted. I think they could even be marigold?  

But what makes this painting truly unique and different from all the other Iris paintings that Van Gogh did is the little melancholy white flower in the middle of it all. 



Time and again, people have speculated what this flower really means. 

Some say it represented Vincent himself. He felt sad and depressed, even if all the other people around him were happy and blooming. Others say, he was talking about Jesus - one perfect among all others. 


Another thing that makes this painting different from all the other paintings in the Iris series is the fact that these irises are still growing on the ground and rising out of the dirt. 



My thoughts about the Irises 

The painting looks so simple when you like at it from afar, but as you come closer, you realize there are so many elements into play. In fact, as I was writing this article, I kept going back to the painting and zooming it out, just because there is so much to see.

Its like the painting invites you in, and it reminds you that there is always a balance of happiness and sadness in life. 

You could be superbly happy about something, and yet there might be this melancholy feeling in your head, which shouldn’t be there ideally, but it just still is.

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32 comments

  1. I love Van Gogh - great choice for I. Haven't looked closely at this painting - love the sunflowers.

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  2. I think I remember when this painting was unearthed. It's beautiful! Who would have known that it included Japanese influences and a sort-of portrait of the artist? Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Van Gogh was deeply influenced by Japanese art and he also bought many woodblocks for creating patterns

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  3. Oh my! This is one detailed post on this painting and no I have never noticed so many elements in it as you have pointed out. I do love his works and yes the Sunflowers and his self portrait are my fav. Now this just got added, thanks to your eye for detial!
    Loving your series Radhika - looking forward to more! :-)

    Theme: Peregrination Chronicles (travel)
    I is for innovation or Jugaad which we Indians are very famous for #atozchallenge

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    1. Yeah, the irises often get overshadowed by the other brilliant work that he did

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  4. Van Gogh's work always evoked intrigue. I recently read somebody's FB post which went something like this, 'Wonder what would have happened had Van Gogh gone to see a therapist.' I guess we wouldn't have seen such amazing artworks had he gone for therapy! It was both amusing and thought provoking. :)

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    1. Well, Van Gogh did painted the Irises when he was in a mental asylum in France. There were irises around the garden and painting helped him relax.

      He was in therapy but that was late 1800s and the medical industry was just not as advanced to recognized and treat mental illness. I think he would have painted more masterpieces if he had gotten better

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  5. I love Van Gogh, and this is one of my favorite paintings too! The tiny details, the eternal mystery of that white iris, are really intriguing.

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    1. The white flower is not an iris. I think its a lily may be. Not sure

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  6. At first glance, it did seem like something pretty ordinary. But once I read your description about the Japanese Woodblock painting, and the lonely white iris, I understood why Van Gogh would want to paint this scene!

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    1. I know right, its the little details which are easy to see when you are directly looking at the canvas. But become difficult to see when you are just looking at the picture

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  7. One of the nicest days I had on my trip last year was the day spent in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
    @msdeniseh553
    Denise at My Life in Retirement Ice Cream

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    1. Wow! I really want to go the museum in Netherlands

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  8. Hi Ritika! Stopped by from the AtoZ challenge.
    I love this painting, though, I never bothered to look at it so closely. And I had no idea it was one of the 10 most expensive paintings in the world!
    Any thoughts about why the yellow ones are more concentrated BEHIND the white one, while the irises are in front?
    Happy AtoZing!
    Chicky @ www.mysteriouskaddu.com

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    1. Yeah, that's what I was surprised about! Like Van Gogh has such superb masterpieces but why this one!

      From what I could find was, Japanese art collectors are big Van Gogh fans, and since this one is influenced by Japanese art, it spiked up the painting's value

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  9. Hey Ritika, I am really greatful towards you, you have made me realise how to appriceat paintings. Before reading your series, I just knew the name of Van Gogh. But now I have started enjoying his paintings.

    "In the meantime" I have written something taking links for TOI website for today's article

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    1. I am glad Aditya! Thank you for the kind words :)

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  10. Once again you have informed us in an interesting way about an intriguing painting. Thank you.

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  11. I much prefer this one to Sunflowers which I always think a look a bit on the dead side!
    Debbie

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    1. But Sunflower yellow is so stunning <3

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  12. bLACK lining to accentuate the elements! Finally, I have something in common with a major artist... I used to do the same in school!
    *rushes to find old crayon drawings and sell on Amazon*

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    1. Hahaha, and you can add - Inspired by Japanese art :D

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  13. Of course, I'd seen this painting before but never taken a close look. Now I realise how many elements are present and they can be interpreted any number of ways. It's very vibrant, despite being quite sad too. You can almost see the irises moving in the wind!

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    1. That;s so true Nick! I didn't see the wind in effect until you pointed it out

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  14. I like many of Van Gogh's works. To think of what a tortured person he was. I've never speculated about what the lone white iris stands for - a flower misplaced, perhaps? A mutant?

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  15. I hadn't seen this painting by Van Gogh. it's beautiful. The white flower looks sad though, so I definitely see it as representing himself. I have a print of one of his hayfield paintings hanging in my living room that I got at an art museum.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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  16. definitely nice when you can zoom in on paintings!

    joy @ The Joyous Living

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  17. I love this painting and enjoyed reading your observations. Food for thought.

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