Metropolitan Museum: Van Gogh’s Irises and Roses

There is a small, but exquisite exhibition at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art of four floral paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. There are two paintings of irises and two of roses. Hung in the Robert Lehman Wing on 1st floor, Gallery 955.

Van Gogh Irises and Roses

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art | part of Van Gogh: Irises and Roses

This exhibit is the first time in a 125 years that the four works have hung together. Van Gogh is thought to have completed each painting within a day finishing all four in a single week, his last while confined at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole at Saint-Remy in 1890.  He had been at the hospital for a year being treated for epilepsy and had been very ill when the asylum’s garden first bloomed in early spring.

Just before Van Gogh was released and while he was packing in preparation for leaving, he found enough flowers in the mid-May garden, to inspire his vibrant and energetic renderings of the roses and irises. Knowing that the flowers would wilt, Van Gogh worked very quickly. His composition, paint strokes, color choices and interpretations are all very confident and will remind the viewer of his beautiful sunflower series painted at Arles a little earlier. The sunflowers had given the artist a new level of confidence that he tapped into for this grouping.

Van Gogh told his brother Theo that he intended for the roses and irises to always hang together, but fate did not allow this.  Art collectors today feel wildly privileged to own one Van Gogh, much less four. However, you will be very happy to see them hanging together in this extremely rare exhibit at the Metropolitan. It is worth the effort, and it won’t take you long to see these gorgeous works, but I am betting that you will never forget them.

Happy viewing.

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