Vincent van Gogh painted his famous “Iris” series at the Asylum of Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint-Rémy, France, in 1889. Allowed to roam the asylum ’s grounds, van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother, Theo, “When I send you the four canvases of the garden. . .you ’ll see that considering that life happens above all in the garden, it isn ’t so sad.” In a letter to his mother and sister he wrote, “But precisely for one ’s health, as you say—it ’s very necessary to work in the garden and to see the flowers growing.”
From Van Gogh, Vincent. 2009. Vincent van Gogh–The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition. Edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, Nienke Bakker of the Van Gogh Museum in association with the Huygens Institute. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. Letters 776 and 889 retrieved from http://www.vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html on May 8, 2013.