Painted while at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. Vincent's brother Theo exhibited the painting at the Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1889.
In 1987 the Australian businessman Alan Bond purchased the Irises painting for US$53.9 million, which was then the highest price ever paid for a painting. Much of the price paid was loaned from the auction house, which Bond failed to pay back. Sotheby's took the painting back and it was later sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1990.