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This sketchbook cover features a detail from one of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s most popular paintings, Vincent van Gogh’s Irises (1889)
Irises is one of many paintings and prints of irises painted while Vincent van Gogh was living at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890. 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).
Van Gogh considered this painting a study which is probably why there are no known drawings for it, although his brother Theo 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.” The painting’s first owner, French art critic Octave Mirbeau, one of Van Gogh’s earliest supporters, wrote, “How well he has understood the exquisite nature of flowers!”
Dimensions: 5 x 7 inches
Features: Perfect bound 75 blank white interior pages, made in the USA