In May 1890, just before he checked himself out of the asylum at Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh painted four exuberant bouquets of spring flowers, the only still lifes of any ambition he had undertaken during his yearlong stay: two of irises, two of roses, in contrasting color schemes and formats. In the Museum’s Irises he sought a “harmonious and soft” effect by placing the “violet” flowers against a “pink background,” which have since faded owing to his use of fugitive red pigments. Another work from this series, Roses (1993.400.5), hangs in the adjacent gallery. Both were owned by the artist’s mother until her death in 1907.
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Artist:Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:29 x 36 1/4 in. (73.7 x 92.1 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Adele R. Levy, 1958
For more information on this painting, including technical information on color fading, see the exhibition page for Van Gogh: Irises and Roses.
the artist's mother, Anna van Gogh-Carbentus, Leiden (until d. 1907; her estate, 1907–8; sold by her daughter-in-law, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, between March 24 and 31, 1908 with MMA 1993.400.5 and F814 for fl. 8,150 to Cassirer); [Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1908, Einkaufsbücher, no. 8471, as “Iris”; sold in March for 9,000 marks to Mendelssohn]; Robert von Mendelssohn, Berlin (1908–d. 1917); his widow, Giulietta von Mendelssohn, Grunewald, Berlin (1917–no later than 1935); their son, Francesco von Mendelssohn, and/or their daughter, Eleonora von Mendelssohn, Berlin, then (from 1935) New York (by 1935–39; sold by her in June 1939 to Rosenberg); [Paul Rosenberg, New York, 1939–42; sold in April 1942 to Levy]; Adele R. (Mrs. David M.) Levy, New York (1942–58; life interest, 1958–d. 1960)
Paris. Apartment of Theo van Gogh (6, Cité Pigalle) or Shop of Julien-François Tanguy (14, rue Clauzel). September 1890, no catalogue [see Beaubourg 1890].
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune & Cie. "Les Fleurs et Natures Mortes," November 14–30, 1907, no. 26 (as "Iris").
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Cent tableaux de Vincent van Gogh," January 6–February 1, 1908, no. 85 (as "Iris").
Berlin. Paul Cassirer. "X. Jahrgang. VII. Ausstellung," March 5–22, 1908, no. 20 (as "Iris").
Berlin. Paul Cassirer. "XV. Jahrgang. Erste Ausstellung," October–November 1912, no. 78 (as "Blaue Iris," possibly this picture) [see Feilchenfeldt 1988 and Feilchenfeldt 2013].
Berlin. Kronprinzenpalais, Nationalgalerie. "Van Gogh—Matisse," 1921, no. ? (lent by Giuletta [sic] von Mendelssohn).
Berliner Künstlerhaus. "Erste Sonderausstellung in Berlin," January 9–mid-February 1927, no. 114 (as "Iris im Krug") [the exhibition was organized by the Galerien Thannhauser; see Meier-Graefe 1927].
Berlin. Galerie Matthiesen. "Ausstellung das Stilleben in der Deutschen und Französischen Malerei von 1850 bis zur Gegenwart," mid-February–mid-March, 1927, no. 120 (as "Iris," lent by M., Berlin).
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Vincent van Gogh: l'époque française," June 20–July 2, 1927, no catalogue [see La Faille 1970 and correspondence in archive file].
Berlin. Paul Cassirer. "Vincent van Gogh: Gemälde," January 15–March 1, 1928, no. 70 (as "Iris," lent by a private collector, Berlin-Grunewald) [Bailey 2006 states that lender was Giulietta von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy].
Frankfurt. Städelsches Kunstinstitut. "Vom Abbild zum Sinnbild," June 3–July 3, 1931, no. 73 (as "Iris," lent by a private collector).
New York. Paul Rosenberg & Co. "Masterpieces by Van Gogh (1852–1890)," January 5–31, 1942, not in catalogue.
New York. Wildenstein. "The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh," October 6–November 7, 1943, no. 57 (lent by Mrs. David M. Levy).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from New York Private Collections," July 2–September 22, 1946, unnumbered cat. (as "Purple Iris," lent by Dr. and Mrs. David M. Levy).
New York. Paul Rosenberg. "The 19th Century Heritage," March 7–April 1, 1950, no. 10 (lent by Dr. and Mrs. David M. Levy).
New York. Wildenstein. "Van Gogh," March 24–April 30, 1955, no. 68 (as "Still Life: Irises").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionist and Modern Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 11–end of summer, 1957, no catalogue (lent by D.M. Levy [David M. Levy], according to internal MMA checklist).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 1–September 1, 1958, no. 71.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 7–September 7, 1959, no. 55.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "The Mrs. Adele R. Levy Collection: A Memorial Exhibition," June 9–July 16, 1961, unnumbered cat. (p. 21).
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 90).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–June 1, 1971, no. 386.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic," October 30, 1973–January 6, 1974, no. 3.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers," November 25, 1986–March 22, 1987, no. 52.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "From Delacroix to Matisse," March 15–May 10, 1988, no. 43.
Moscow. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. "From Delacroix to Matisse," June 10–July 30, 1988, no. 43.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Van Gogh's Irises: Masterpiece in Focus," June 11–September 19, 1999, unnumbered cat.
Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts. "Van Gogh in Budapest," December 1, 2006–March 20, 2007, no. 70 (as "'Iris' — Vase with Blue Irises").
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh: Irises and Roses," May 12–August 16, 2015, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence," March 12–July 29, 2018, unnumbered cat.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [May 11, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b680 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let870/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 633; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 870], states that he is working on "two canvases of large bouquets of violet Irises, one lot against a pink background in which the effect is harmonious and soft through the combination of greens, pinks, violets" [this picture]; continues "On the contrary, the other violet bouquet (ranging up to pure carmine and Prussian blue) standing out against a striking lemon yellow background with other yellow tones in the vase and the base on which it rests is an effect of terribly disparate complementaries that reinforce each other by their opposition” [F678]; mentions that "these canvases will take a good month to dry, but the man who works here will take care of sending them after my departure".
Vincent van Gogh. Draft of a letter to his sister Willemien. [on or about May 21, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b721 V/1962., http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/RM19/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. W21; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. RM19], writes "in the last few days at St-Rémy I worked in a frenzy. Big bouquets of flowers, violet irises, big bouquets of roses".
Vincent van Gogh. Draft of a letter to his brother Theo and sister-in-law Jo van Gogh-Bonger. [May 24, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b696 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/RM20/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 648; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. RM20], mentions at least eight canvases still in Saint-Rémy (of which this was one) which show that he is "trying not to lose my touch".
Vincent van Gogh. Draft of a letter to Joseph Jacob Isaäcson. [May 25, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b663 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/RM21/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 614a; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. RM21], states that since their last correspondence he has made "a few studies of flowers" and describes them as "an avalanche of roses against a green background and a very large bouquet of violet Irises against yellow background, against pink background" (F678 and the present picture).
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his sister Willemien. [June 5, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b722 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let879/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. W22; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 879], writes "in the last few days at St-Rémy I worked like a man in a frenzy, especially on bouquets of flowers. Roses and violet Irises".
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [June 24, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b692V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let891/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 644; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 891], mentions that the canvases have arrived from Saint-Rémy, stating "the Irises have dried well and I dare believe that you'll find something in them".
Theo van Gogh. Letter to his sister Willemien. August 24, 1890 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; excerpted and trans. in Jan Hulsker, "what Theo really thought of Vincent," vincent: bulletin of the Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, vol. 3, no. 2 (1974), pp. 25–26], mentions that Vincent's works from Auvers are at Tanguy's.
Maurice Beaubourg. "La Mort de Dubois-Pillet et de Vincent van-Gogh." La revue indépendante 16 (September 1890), p. 401 [excerpted and trans. in Stein 1986, p. 260], in an essay citing works on view in Paris 1890, remarks "Des fleurs aussi, iris ou roses, se détachant crûment sur des fonds jaunes, rose [MMA painting], vert Véronèse" (Some flowers as well, irises or roses, stand out crudely against yellow, pink, and Veronese-green backgrounds).
Julius Meier-Graefe. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Kunst. Stuttgart, 1904, vol. 1, p. 119 n. 1, writes that Van Gogh's mother, The Hague, owns "Zwei Blumenstilleben 'Roses' [The Met 1993.400.5] und 'Iris' [this picture] und mehrere kleinere Bilder".
"Petites expositions: Fleurs et natures mortes (Galerie Bernheim)." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts no. 37 (November 30, 1907), p. 348.
Charles Saunier. "Notes d’art." Le magasin pittoresque (supplément) 76 (January 1, 1908), p. 3, calls it and The Met 1993.400.5 “fleurs d'une fraicheur et d'un parfum pénétrants” (flowers of a penetrating freshness and fragrance).
[François] Thiebault-Sisson. "Au jour le jour: Choses d’art, Vincent Van Gogh." Le temps 48 (January 8, 1908), p. 3, compares the artist’s late landscapes and still lifes, including this one, to multicolored silks embroidered in the Japanese style.
Alfred-Jousselin. "Les Petits Salons: Van Gogh à la galerie Bernheim." Le Radical 28 (January 19, 1908), p. 2, describes it and “Roses au pot vert” (The Met 1993.400.5) as having “un dessin et une facture vraiment magistraux, qui nous donnent une idée des effets délicieux d'harmonie auxquels voulait et pouvait atteindre Van Gogh (a truly masterful design and facture, which give us an idea of the delicious effects of harmony which Van Gogh wanted and could achieve); notes its price as 12,000 francs.
Marius-Ary Leblond. "Les Expositions: Van Gogh (aux galeries Bernheim et Druet)." La Grande Revue (January 25, 1908), p. 380, notes it among the paintings in which the artist “contourne et délimite l’orfèvrerie” (traces and defines the goldsmithery) of flowers over backgrounds that are like “les différentes atmosphères essentielles aux phases de l’illumination progressive du ciel par le grand jour” (the different atmospheres essential to the phases of the gradual illumination of the sky by daylight).
Paul Cassirer. Letter to Johanna Cohen-Gosschalk-Bonger [Johanna van Gogh-Bonger]. March 10, 1908 [published in Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 696], offers Van Gogh-Bonger thirteen thousand marks for this painting and two others (The Met 1993.400.5 and F814); states he wants to acquire it for “Prof. Liebermann,” whom he calls an enthusiastic follower of the artist, in exchange for another painting.
Fritz Stahl. "Aus dem Berliner Kunstleben." Berliner Tageblatt 37 (March 20, 1908), p. 1 [reprinted in Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 698], singles it out as one of three pictures that “aus der Masse herausstechen” [stand out from the crowd]; describes it as “ein Blumenstück, ein Strauß blauer und violetter Iris, die gegen einen gelblich-weissen Hintergrund stehen: dekorativ und gross, wie man sie als Wandmalerei in einem modernen Hause sehen möchte” [a floral piece, a bouquet of blue and violet irises set against a yellowish-white background: decorative and large, like a mural in a modern home].
Anna Behnisch-Kappstein. "Berliner Kunstbrief." Schwäbischer Merkur no. 134 (March 20, 1908), p. 2 [reprinted in Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 700], praises its execution.
M. O. [Max Osborn]. "Aus den Kunstsalons." National-Zeitung no. 144 (March 22, 1908) [see Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 702], praises it and calls it a “hell-violett-blaugrünes Phantasiestück” [light violet-blue-green fantasy piece].
W-r. [Albert Weidner]. "Salon Cassirer." Die Welt am Montag no. 12 (March 23,1908) [see Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 704], calls it and two other still lifes in the exhibition [The Met 1993.400.5 and F454] enchanting.
Paul Cassirer. Letter to Johanna Cohen-Gosschalk-Bonger [Johanna van Gogh-Bonger]. March 24, 1908 [published in Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 704], states that “Prof. Liebermann” found it too expensive so he would like to buy it and two other pictures [The Met 1993.400.5 and F814] for eight thousand guilders himself.
Ernst Schur. "Aus den Berliner Kunstsalons." Unterhaltungsblatt des Vorwärts no. 59 (March 24, 1908), p. 234 [reprinted in Echte and Feilchenfeldt 2011–16, vol. 3, p. 706], describes it as the picture with “die wie lebendig sich schlängelnden Iris-blüten vor hellem weißlichen Hintergrund” [the iris blossoms snaking as if alive against a light whitish background].
Julius Meier-Graefe. Vincent. Munich, 1921, vol. 1, pp. 219–20 [English ed., "Vincent van Gogh," London, 1922, vol. 2, pp. 76–77].
Julius Meier-Graefe. "Die Franzosen in Berlin." Der Cicerone 19 (January 1927), p. 44, ill. p. 51, as "Iris im Krug"; notes that Berlin 1927 was organized by the Galerien Thannhauser and took place in the Berliner Künstlerhaus; mentions the masterpieces by Van Gogh on view from Giulietta von Mendelssohn's collection and the Durieux-Cassirer collection.
K[arl]. Sch[effler]. "Kunstausstellungen: Berlin." Kunst und Künstler 25 (April 1927), ill. p. 270, as "Schwertlilien," exhibited at the Galerie Matthiesen, Berlin.
J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, pp. 193–94, no. 680; vol. 2, pl. 190, as "Nature morte: les iris," dated May 1890; describes the picture, writing "dans une cruche en grès gris cernée de bleu d'outremer trempent des iris bleu de cobalt et d'outremer et quelques fleurs d'ocre rouge. Ce vase est posé sur un plan vert de cobalt pâle. Fond blanc chaud" (immersed in a gray stoneware jug outlined in ultramarine blue are cobalt-and-ultramarine blue irises and a few red ocher flowers. The vase is placed on a plane of pale cobalt green. Warm white background).
Die Piper-Drucke. [Munich?], 1928 or 1929, no. 34, ill. (color), as "Irisstrauß," private collection, Berlin.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Vincent van Gogh: Mit Vierundfünfzig abbildungen und dem faksimile eines briefes. 6th revised ed. Munich, 1929, ill p. 45, calls it "Irisstrauß" and identifies the owner as Frau W. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Grunewald; notes that a color reproduction is available from Piper-Drucke.
Catalogue des photographies d'oeuvres d'art: Procédés E. Druet, peintures et sculptures modernes. Paris, [193–?], p. 109, no. 7156, advertises photographic reproductions of this painting, calling it "Nature morte, fleurs dans un pot".
W. Scherjon. Catalogue des tableaux par Vincent van Gogh décrits dans ses lettres. Périodes: St. Rémy et Auvers sur Oise. Utrecht, 1932, p. 112, no. 111, ill., as "Bouquet de fleurs d'iris violets (fond rose)".
Alfred Bader. Künstler-Tragik: Karl Stauffer, Vincent van Gogh. Basel, 1932, p. 92.
Ausstellung Piper-Drucke und Plastik von Julius Martin im Museum, 24. Januar bis 21. Februar 1932. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Winterthur, 1932, p. 6, no. 66 (of exhibited reproductions), as "Irisstrauß".
Lamberto Vitali. Vincent van Gogh. Milan, 1936, pl. 28, as "Natura morta," in the collection of Giulietta V. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Berlin-Grunewald.
W. Scherjon and Jos. De Gruyter. Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (complete catalogue). Amsterdam, 1937, p. 302, Saint-Rémy no. 111, ill.
Jean de Beucken. Vincent van Gogh: un portrait. [Brussels], n.d., p. 108.
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, , pp. 484, 560, 583, 588, no. 701, ill.
Art News 42 (October 15–31, 1943), p. 5, ill. on cover (color), notes that it is being lent to exhibition New York 1943 by Dr. and Mrs. David M. Levy.
John Rewald. Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin. 1st ed. New York, 1956, pp. 380, 394, ill. p. 383 [3rd, rev. ed., 1978, pp. 354, 368, ill. p. 355], as "Irises in a Vase," in the collection of Dr. and Mrs. David M. Levy, New York.
Adeline Ravoux Carrié. "Les Souvenirs d'Adeline Ravoux sur le séjour de Vincent van Gogh à Auvers-sur-Oise." Les Cahiers de Van Gogh 1 (), p. 15 [excerpted and trans. in Stein 1986, p. 216], mentions that after Van Gogh's death "Les Iris" [this canvas and/or F678] were left in his room at the inn owned by the Ravoux family.
Vincent van Gogh. The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh with Reproductions of All the Drawings in the Correspondence. Greenwich, Conn., 1958, under letter nos. 614a, 633, 644, 648, W21, W22.
Catalogue of Colour Reproductions of Paintings—1860 to 1961. Paris, 1961, p. 176, no. 451, ill.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 191–92, ill.
Jean Leymarie. Van Gogh. [1st ed., 1968]. New York, 1977, pp. 155–56, 158.
J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 266–67, 638, no. 680, ill., as "Still Life: Vase with Irises Against a Pink Background".
Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh e i suoi nessi grafici. Vol. 2, Da Arles a Auvers. repr. [1st ed., 1966]. Milan, 1971–77, p. 229, no. 794, ill. p. 227, as "Vaso con fiori (iris, con fondo rosa)".
Jan Hulsker, ed. Van Gogh's "Diary": The Artist's Life in His Own Words and Art. New York, 1971, pp. 146–47, 167, ill.
Matthias Arnold. "Duktus und Bildform bei Vincent van Gogh." PhD diss., Ruprecht-Karl University, Heidelberg, 1973, pp. 121, 188 nn. 215, 219, p. 192 n. 346, p. 194 n. 405.
J. Hulsker, ed. Van Gogh door Van Gogh. De brieven als commentaar op zijn werk. Amsterdam, 1973, pp. 203, 205–7, 209, 220, identifies references to the painting in the artist's letters.
Charles S. Moffett. Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1979, p. 13, colorpls. 14–15 (overall and detail).
Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 448, 450, 452, no. 1978, ill., as "Vase with Violet Irises against a Pink Background".
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Vincent van Gogh and the Birth of Cloisonism. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario. Toronto, 1981, p. 158.
Susan Alyson Stein, ed. Van Gogh: A Retrospective. New York, 1986, pp. 216 [this work and/or F678], 260, colorpl. 111, excerpts and translates Carrié 1957 and Beaubourg 1890.
Ronald Pickvance The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers. New York, 1986, pp. 72, 82, 185–86, 205, 210, no. 52, ill. (color), notes that the pink background has sunk so that the color contrasts Van Gogh sought are no longer evident.
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, ill. in color on title pages.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: The Reception of Van Gogh in Germany from 1901 to 1914. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1988, pp. 27, 29, 66, 112, 146, 149, 155–56, ill., gives early provenance and exhibition history.
Judith Bumpus. Van Gogh's Flowers. Oxford, 1989, pp. 58–59, colorpl. 31.
Monique Nonne. Le jardin de Van Gogh. Paris, 1989, pp. 100–101, ill. (color).
Evert van Uitert et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam. Milan, 1990, p. 254, ill.
Roland Dorn inVincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, p. 175 n. 2.
Walter Feilchenfeldt inVincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, p. 44, states that Bernheim-Jeune found this work and The Met 1993.400.5 "too expensive" and that Cassirer subsequently bought them from Van Gogh's mother's estate, selling the present painting to Robert von Mendelssohn.
Hans Bronkhorst. Vincent van Gogh. New York, , p. 142.
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, p. 111.
Takanori Nagai inVincent van Gogh and Japan. Exh. cat., National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. [Tokyo?], 1992, p. 188, fig. 32.
Jan Hulsker. Vincent van Gogh: A Guide to His Work and Letters. Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 42, 57–58, 76, dates letter no. 614a to May 25, 1890, no. W21 to about May 20, no. W22 to about June 5, and no. 644 to June 24 or 25; lists all the works mentioned in each letter, and corrects passages of the French to English translation [see Refs. 1890].
Ingo F. Walther and Rainer Metzger. Vincent van Gogh: The Complete Paintings. Cologne, 1993, vol. 2, ill. p. 624 (color) [German ed., "Vincent van Gogh: Sämtliche Gemälde," 1989].
Matthias Arnold. Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung. Munich, 1995, pp. 277, 289–90, colorpl. 142.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 498, ill.
Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 448, 450, 496, no. 1978, ill. p. 452, dates it May 5–11, 1890.
Juleke van Lindert and Louis van Tilborgh inVincent van Gogh and His Time: Still Lifes from the Van Gogh Museum and the H.W. Mesdag Museum. Exh. cat., Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 1996, pp. 70, 142, fig. 13a.
Cynthia Saltzman. Portrait of Dr. Gachet: The Story of a Van Gogh Masterpiece. New York, 1998, pp. 110, 235, 280, states that Cassirer sold it for DM 9,000 in March 1908.
Jean-Paul Rioux in Anne Distel and Susan Alyson Stein. Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Doctor Gachet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1999, p. 107, mentions it during a discussion of the discoloration of various pigments used by Van Gogh.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Van Gogh in Provence and Auvers. [New York], 1999, p. 259, ill. p. 224 (color).
Colin B. Bailey and John Collins. Van Gogh's Irises: Masterpiece in Focus. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa, 1999, pp. 18–19, 23, ill. pp. 20 and 23 (both in color).
Debra N. Mancoff. Van Gogh: Fields and Flowers. San Francisco, 1999, p. 57, ill. (color).
Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2000, pp. 54, 59, 63, 108, 112, 115.
Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. New Haven, 2000, pp. 164–65, fig. 171 (color).
David Grossvogel. Behind the Van Gogh Forgeries: A Memoir. San Jose, Calif., 2001, p. 134.
Chris Stolwijk and Han Veenenbos. The Account Book of Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Amsterdam, 2002, pp. 148, 184, ill., identify it as one of three paintings sold by Van Gogh-Bonger for 8,150 guilders to Paul Cassirer in 1908, noting that Van Gogh-Bonger recorded only one of these works ("Garden"; F814; private collection) in her account book, since the other two (this work and "Vase of Roses"; F682; The Met 1993.400.5) came from the estate of her mother-in-law, Anna Van Gogh-Carbentus, who had died in 1907.
Teio Meedendorp inThe Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Ed. Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders. Otterlo, 2003, p. 291.
Martin Bailey inVan Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors. Exh. cat., Compton Verney, Warwickshire. Edinburgh, 2006, pp. 110, 141 n. 30, states that the lender to Berlin 1928 was Giulietta von Mendelssohn–Bartholdy, Berlin; ties the painting to Valerie Alport, about 1929, based on a reference in the autobiographical novel "The Temple," by Stephen Spender, but then argues that Alport owned a different Van Gogh.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. By Appointment Only: Cézanne, Van Gogh and Some Secrets of Art Dealing. English ed. London, 2006, p. 64, states that Johanna van Gogh-Bonger sold it to Cassirer in 1908, who in turn sold it to von Mendelssohn.
Zsuzsa Gonda inVan Gogh in Budapest. Ed. Judit Geskó. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts. Budapest, 2006, pp. 358–59, 551, no. 70, ill. (color).
Marije Vellekoop, and Roelie Zwikker, with the assistance of Monique Hageman. Vincent van Gogh, Drawings. Vol. 4, Arles, Saint-Rémy & Auvers-sur-Oise, 1888–90. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 2007, part 2, p. 419.
Laura Ann Coyle. "The Still-Life Paintings of Vincent van Gogh and Their Context." PhD diss., Princeton University, September 2007, pp. 476–79, fig. 7.14, the figure is identified as 7.14 in the text, but misnumbered as 7.12 in the illustration section.
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, p. 11.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 174, 259–60, no. 162, ill. (color and black and white).
Thomas Blubacher. "Gibt es etwas Schöneres als Sehnsucht?": Die Geschwister Eleonora und Francesco von Mendelssohn. [Berlin], 2008, pp. 36, 299, as "Vase mit Schwertlilien" (Vase with Bearded Irises) and as "Schwertlilien" (Bearded Irises); notes it was in the Mendelssohn collection with van Gogh's "Landschaft bei St. Rémy" (Landscape near Saint-Rémy); mentions Eleonora von Mendelssohn's 1939 sale of the picture.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, p. 233, fig. 170 (color).
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 5, pp. 232, 235, fig. 3 (color), under letter no. 870, pp. 250, 254, fig. 9 (color), under letter no. 879, p. 268, fig. 1 (color), under letter no. 891, p. 317, fig. 1 (color), under letter no. RM19, p. 319, fig. 8 (color), under letter no. RM20, pp. 320–21, fig. 13 (color), under letter no. RM21.
Jennifer Helvey. Irises: Vincent van Gogh in the Garden. Los Angeles, 2009, pp. 53, 57, 70, fig. 28 (color), discusses it (as "Bouquet of Irises") as one of three cut-flower still lifes from the end of his year in the asylum, as opposed to the growing "Irises" (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles) he painted upon arrival; notes the artist's description of them with regard to the use of complementary colors; discusses precedents in Japanese woodblock prints and Dutch seventeenth-century still life paintings as well as the reasons for choosing irises as his subject; calls them a "farewell to the south".
Veronica Grodzinski. "The Art Dealer and Collector as Visionary: Discovering Vincent van Gogh in Wilhelmine Germany 1900–1914." Journal of the History of Collections 21 (2009), p. 225.
Thomas Blubacher. "Eleonora (1900–1951) and Francesco von Mendelssohn (1901–1972), Berlin." Lost Lives, Lost Art: Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest for Justice. Ed. Melissa Müller Monika Tatzkow. New York, 2010, pp. 73–74, 80 [German ed., Munich, 2009], states that former owners Eleonora and Francesco von Mendelssohn emigrated together to New York in autumn 1935, bringing with them paintings from their collection; includes a photograph of them (with Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya) on board the S.S. Majestic upon their arrival on September 10, 1935.
Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Van Gogh: The Life. New York, 2011, p. 819.
Louis van Tilborgh in Ella Hendriks et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Vol. 2, Antwerp & Paris, 1885–1888: Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2011, p. 25 n. 25, notes Gallimard's interest in buying it as well as two other Paris canvases but states that he probably bought nothing in the end.
Kunstsalon Cassirer. Ed. Bernhard Echte and Walter Feilchenfeldt. Wädenswil, Zürich, 2011–16, vol. 3, pp. 696, 698, 700, 702, 704, 706, 713, 785, ill. p. 695 (color), reproduce two letters from Paul Cassirer to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, dated March 10 and 24, 1908, about the purchase of this painting and two others (The Met 1993.400.5 and F814); republish Stahl 1908, Behnisch-Kappstein 1908, Osborn 1908, Weidner 1908, and Schur 1908.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, pp. 26, 32 n. 45, pp. 186, 294, 312, 315, 319, 343, 347, ill. (color) [1st German ed., 2009], calls it "Irises" and "Vase with Irises against a Pink Background"; identifies it as no. 277, Iris, on the Bonger list of 1890 [see Notes].
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. "The Fifth Generation of the Mendelssohn Family as Art Collectors." 250 Jahre Familie Mendelssohn: Beiträge des Kongresses Berlin, 20. bis 22. Juni 2012. Ed. Sebastian Panwitz and Roland Dieter Schmidt-Hensel. Hanover, 2014, pp. 302, 381, fig. 8, colorpl. 11, as "Still life with Irises" and "Schwertlilien (Les Iris)"; dates it 1889; calls it "one of the [Robert von Mendelssohn] family's crown jewels"; states that Eleonora von Mendelssohn sold it to Rosenberg with Justin Thannhauser's aid.
Julian Bell. Van Gogh: A Power Seething. Boston, 2015, p. 138.
Edwin Mullins. Van Gogh: The Asylum Year. London, 2015, pp. 181, 184, notes that the artist chose to complete his asylum year as he started it, painting irises in the garden.
Stefan Koldehoff. Ich und van Gogh: Bilder, Sammler und ihre abenteuerlichen Geschichten. Berlin, 2015, p. 185, misidentifies The Met painting as having been purchased by Franz Mendelssohn and his younger cousin Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, instead of Franz's brother Robert and inherited and later sold by his children; also misidentifies it as later acquired by Walter Annenberg.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 448, no. 401, ill. pp. 405, 448 (color).
Silvia A. Centeno et al. "Van Gogh's 'Irises' and 'Roses': the Contribution of Chemical Analyses and Imaging to the Assessment of Color Changes in the Red Lake Pigments." Heritage Science 5 (May 10, 2017) [https://heritagesciencejournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40494-017-0131-8], discuss in detail the fading of red lake pigments in the painting based on the results of non-invasive techniques of scientific examination, in-depth microchemical analysis, color measurements, and digital color simulations.
Megan Fontanella inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 22, fig. 10 (installation shot, Berliner Künstlerhaus 1927).
Monique Hageman and Nora Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 101 n. 1, ill. front cover (cropped).
Cornelia Homburg inVan Gogh & Japan. Ed. Tsukasa Kodera, Cornelia Homburg, and Yukihiro Sato. Exh. cat., Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo. Kyoto, 2017, pp. 123, 149 n. 44, notes that the pairing of simplified color with sharply outlined shapes demonstrates the continued role of Japanese sources in the artist's work and that the set of formal still lifes of irises were painted when he was planning a return to the north of France.
Colta Ives. Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2018, pp. 160, 182–83, fig. 157 (color), notes that the irises of Saint-Rémy were probably survivors of the medieval cloister garden, where the flowers were raised to be used in medicines and ink.
Cornelia Homburg inVan Gogh & Japan. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Brussels, 2018, pp. 112, 181 n. 45.
Todd Cronan inThrough Vincent's Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources. Ed. Eik Kahng. Exh. cat., Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio. Santa Barbara, 2021, p. 69.
Feilchenfeldt 2013 identifies no. 277, Iris, on the Bonger list (a catalogue of Van Gogh’s estate drawn up by Andries Bonger in late 1890) with this picture. However, another possibility is F601 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). It may be that the Metropolitan’s Irises does not appear on the list, as is the case with the Museum’s Roses (1993.400.5), which shares the same early provenance. On the Bonger list (now in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, b 3055 V/1962) see Stolwijk and Veenenbos 2002, pp. 23–24.
The “Bouquet d’Iris” exhibited at the "Huitième exposition annuelle des XX" in Brussels in February 1891 (as no. 4) was presumably the vertical Irises now in the Van Gogh Museum (F678), given the request made by Andries Bonger to pair it with an upright portrait, within a selection of works comprising pairs by format (the others were square and horizontal formats). Bonger wrote, "Si possible, nous aimerions beaucoup que le portrait et le bouquet d’iris soient placés l’un à côté de l’autre." Andries Bonger, Letter to Octave Maus. December 22, 1890 (Archives de l'Art contemporain en Belgique, Brussels, inv. no. 5755).
On August 22, 1902, Van Gogh’s mother, Anna van Gogh-Carbentus, wrote a letter in which she identified a painting of Irises ("Irissen") belonging to her estate and stipulated “it is my wish that the Irises will become Wil’s property” (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b2218 V/1982). This is probably a reference to the Metropolitan’s picture, or possibly F601 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa)—although the plural “Irissen” would seem not to apply to that single “Iris.” Willemien van Gogh, Vincent's sister, was institutionalized for life at the end of 1902.
Apropos of Paris 1907, Félix Fénéon, the director of exhibitions for Bernheim-Jeune, wrote to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger on October 30, 1907, expressing interest in this work and The Met 1993.400.5 and adding that they would appear in the gallery’s November exhibition of still lifes. He wrote again on November 1, 1907, noting the arrival of the pictures, a small repair to the Irises, and the asking price of 5000 francs each (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. nos. b5756 V/1996 and b5757 V/1996).
This picture was photographed by Eugène Druet (pl. 72, no. 24/30–438 ["15" added to end of number in white pen], ca. 1900–1910, collection Le fonds Druet-Vizzavona, Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Fort de Saint-Cyr, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France), probably during Paris 1908. A letter from Fénéon to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger on February 11, 1908, confirms that Druet photographed all the works in the exhibition (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b5763 V/1996).
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Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
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