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VAN GOGH’S IRISES
THE ARTIST & THE ART OF SELF-HEALING, PART I
It’s possible that I’ll stay here for quite a long time, never have I been so tranquil as here and at the hospital. Very near here there are some little grey or blue mountains, with very, very green wheat fields at their foot, and pines.
Vincent van Gogh to his sister-in-law, Jo van Gogh-Bonger, dated May 9-15, 1889, Saint-Remy*
I have two others on the go—violet irises and a lilac bush. Two subjects taken from the garden.
Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, also dated May 9-15, 1889, Saint-Remy*
From late 1888 to his death in the summer of 1890, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) battled an illness which remains undiagnosed, despite extensive research into its cause. During this time span, Vincent endured periodic seizures that incapacitated him for weeks and even months. However, he would return again to his artistic passion, seeming revitalized. Creating some of his most beloved works of art such as the Irises below, done at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, a mental institution in Saint-Remy where Vincent had committed himself in early May, 1889.
For the painting is the result of Vincent’s first ventures into the asylum’s garden, within days of his arrival. Communicating with renewed vision, the awakening of the elegant Irises after the long winter. A brief and fleeting beauty, vulnerable to the sometimes unpredictable weather of spring. Was Vincent identifying with his subject, fully sharing in their moment of earthly glory, yet also aware of their ultimate decay?
*The exact dates of these letters are not known.
The main source for this blog is Van Gogh in Saint-Remy and Auvers by Ronald Pickvance, The Metropolitan Museum of Art & Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, 1986.
The above image is used solely for educational purposes.
And choose Van Gogh, Monet, and O’Keeffe as your artistic companions in Through An Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively.