This is considered Gauguin’s first mature work, and it is a portrait of a maid. It was shown in 1881 at the annual Impressionist exhibition and was a great success, launching Gauguin on the Parisian artistic scene. In spite of this, his wife (whom he had painted engaged in a similar pastime) never liked it and refused to hang it in their home.
Gauguin painted this landscape in Martinique during his first exotic “flight”. He went with the painter Laval. It allows us to understand the effect the exotic setting had on Gauguin’s imagination – already in France he was enchanted with bright, violent colors. The stay was abruptly interrupted when Gauguin had to return to France because he had succumbed to tropical diseases, but obviously the fascination with exotic landscapes remained with him.
Still Life with Three Puppies
Painted at Pont-Aven, in its two-dimensional tension and graphic resolution of the volumes, this picture reveals the predominant influence of Japanese art. In regard to paintings such as this one, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo (an art merchant who also handled Gauguin) that his friend was trying to do childlike paintings during that period.
Vincent van Gogh peignant les tournesols
Gauguin did this painting at the end of a brief stay at Arles as a guest of Van Gogh. It portrays the Dutch artist at work on one of his recurring subjects. Gauguin tells that the same day he painted this portrait they had a violent quarrel (as they often did because of artistic disagreements), which had degenerated to the point that Van Gogh attacked him with a razor, followed by his self-mutilation (he cut off his ear) when he realized that Gauguin planned on returning to Paris.
Self-Portrait (Les Misérables)
Before he went to Arles to work with the Dutch painter Gauguin gave this painting to Van Gogh out of friendship according to a custom the two knew was common among Japanese artists. The title that Gauguin wrote on the canvas is a reference to Victor Hugo’s epic novel. By assuming the features of the book’s protagonist, Jean Valjean, who could never fit back into society after leaving prison, Gauguin wanted to allude to a similar condition for the modern artist.
Baigneuses: la vie et la mort
Tired of the sophisticated climate that was developing around Pont-Aven, Gauguin – and his followers – moved to the beaches of Le Pouldou, fascinated by the harsh and wild landscape of an area known as The Black Rocks. He did this painting there, using the Peruvian mummies he had seen as the Musée de l’Homme in Paris as his inspiration. The painting was first exhibited at the Café des Arts, during the Universal Exposition of 1889 in Paris; it was a very important exhibition for the development of French painters of the Nabis generation.
Femmes de Tahiti ou sur la plage
This is one of Gauguin’s most famous paintings done when he went to Tahiti for the first time with a mission for the French Ministry of Education. He had a developed a taste for simple, massive forms through studies of French folk arts during his sojourns in Brittany and in Tahiti it merged with the attraction for exotic primitivism of which Gauguin would become one of the major standard-bearers in European culture.
Ia orana Maria (Ave Maria)
Gauguin always had a fondness for the spiritually barbaric dimensions that religions seemed to acquire in manifestations of popular worship to which he had dedicated paintings during the Pont-Aven years. Here, next to an angel with yellow wings, we see the massive idol figures of the Virgin and Child against a typical Tahitian landscape, as if to affirm the mythical-ancestral aspects of the religious spirit. He also did an engraving based on the figures of the Virgin and Child.
Vahine no te tiare
This is the first portrait of a Maori woman Gauguin painted in Tahiti following the descriptions of the Odilon Redon’s wife who was a native of the Reunion Islands. This painting, like all the works from the beginning of his Tahitian sojourn (generally made on commission) cannot be specifically distinguished from his earlier production. In spite of this, Gauguin was always fond of this painting because he believed that it was the first time he came into contact with his own inner vision.
This painting represents a nightmare that Gauguin’s young Tahitian wife, Tehura had, whom the painter surprised upon his return home in the middle of the night as he himself recounts in his memoirs Noa noa. In the Cahier pour Aline, notes for his daughter he tells a slightly different and less autobiographical version. This was one of his favorite paintings: he did some engravings from it and depicted it behind himself in the 1893 Self-Portraitwith a Hat (Paris, Musée D’Orsay).
Aha oe feii?
This painting dates from Gauguin’s first Tahitian sojourn. In his memoirs “Noa Noa” he tells of how he got the idea for the painting (a conversation between two girls that he overheard on the beach). Gauguin considered this one of his best works to the extent that he repeated the central nude (based on an old statue) in several other compositions. The painting was exhibited in Copenhagen and Paris in 1893 and then went to the Scukin collection in Moscow in 1908.
Anna la Javanaise
Gauguin did this painting in the Rue Vercingetorix studio during his final stay in Paris. It portrays Anna Martin, the thirteen year-old half-caste girl he met through the art merchant Vollard. She lived with him for some time until the relationship came to a stormy end and the girl stole everything he owned. The monkeys and the decorations on the armchair and cushion lend the painting a touch of the exotic atmosphere that pervaded Gauguin’s studio.
The psychological dimension that is often revealed in his handling of Tahitian females is successfully demonstrated in the contrast between the volumes of the woman’s body and the reduction of the depth of field achieved by raising the horizon line. In spite of the clever composition, at a Parisian exhibition one critic defined this painting as “a female monkey on a billiard table.”
Te arii vahine (Women with Mangoes – The King’s Wife)
This is a portrait of Pahura (one of the artist’s many partners) with a complex structure of stylistic and symbolic references. The model is Manet’s Olympia combined with the enigmatic stateliness of the native idols. According to Gauguin the background, that is filled with imaginary plants, is an allegory of the earthly paradise. In his letters he referred to this painting as a “Tahitian Eve.”Iconography
Nave nave mahana (Holiday)
This is Gauguin’s first paradisiacal allegory, a genre that he cultivated in the final years that was to culminate with the complex Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? This was the first of Gauguin’s paintings to enter a public collection in France. In 1913 the Lyon museum purchased it upon recommendation from the great art historian Henri Focillon who was teaching at the local university at the time.Iconography
Autoportrait à Golgota
Gauguin painted this self-portrait during his final sojourn in Tahiti when he was already ill and hospitalized for the sores on his legs and syphilis. The painting is characterized by a strong symbolism (the hospital gown seems to refer to Christ’s robe) and it takes on the characteristics of suffered personal meditation. In fact, the artist did not sell this painting, but kept it with himself. The writer Victor Segalen who had gone to the Marquesas Islands to meet him purchased it after Gauguin’s death.
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
Gauguin painted this large canvas before his suicide attempt in January 1898; he wanted to leave what he considered a spiritual legacy of high philosophical value. Each element in the painting has, indeed a symbolic value that refers to some aspect of human life. According to a process that recurs in his works (especially during the Tahitian period), the composition assembles and repeats formal elements that had already appeared in earlier paintings.
Rupe et Rupe
Gauguin painted this picture during one of the frequent crises that prompted him to leave Tahiti for the Marquesas Islands. The enchanting landscape hides a sort of coded allegory of “paradise lost” (the tree with fruit scattered on the ground). As was frequent in these years, the figures of this painting (inspired by the frieze on the Buddhist temple at Borobuduz) recur in other works such as the Pastoral in the Tate Gallery in London.Iconography
This painting is from the final period of the artist’s life. He had moved to Atuana in the Marquesas Islands and had begun to be actively concerned with the living conditions and rights of the indigenous people, and to write intensely. The paintings from this period more and more frequently follow an “archaic” frieze scheme. In this case, the interest in Polynesian mythology to which the title alludes is accompanied by his previous life in France. The painting portrays Jacob Meyer de Haan a Dutch artist who was his first pupil in Brittany in 1889.
Cavalier sur la plage
This is one of Gauguin’s last works. In the final years of his life on the Marquesas Islands he abandoned all satisfaction and pleasure in the exotic atmospheres he had encountered during his Tahitian pilgrimages (he even stopped using the double titles in French and Polynesian) and dedicated himself to a style of dry, essential vigor. The theme of the rider that was typical of the Impressionist season seems to have been selected partly out of tribute to Degas whose works had fascinated him during his early years and who had been the first to invite him to participate in the Impressionist exhibitions.
Paul Gaugin was born in Paris in 1848 and the following year his family moved to Peru. He returned to his native country when he was seven and studied in boarding schools in Orléans and Paris. In 1865 he sailed for South America as a midshipman on a merchant ship. Over the next two years he spent his time at sea and fought in the Franco-Prussian War (1870). At the end of the war in 1871 he obtained a position as a stockbroker and began painting. In the coming years he met Pissarro and Cézanne and joined the Impressionists, participating in some of their exhibits. In 1883 he left his job and moved to Rouen, where he stayed with Pissarro. Following an artistic maturation that led him to consider “primitive” artistic experiences as fundamental he began a series of journeys that took him from Europe to South America to the French colonies in the Marquesas Islands. In 1886 he went to Brittany, and specifically to Pont-Aven, for the first time and he returned in 1888 after a trip to Martinique. His experience in Brittany was fundamental the development of his “synthètisme” a style that Albert Aurier, a contemporary critic was to define as “idealistic, symbolistic, synthetic, subjective and decorative” art. At the base of the synthètisme was his familiarity with Japanese prints, the primitivism expressed by Breton sculpture, the flat colors and cloisonnisme of Gothic stained glass windows. A fundamental example of the synthètisme is the painting entitled The Vision After the Sermon, 1888. After a brief stay at Arles, as a guest of Van Gogh and at Le Pouldou, after 1891 he made several trips to Tahiti where he colored his already marked eclectic primitivism, that was also developed on the basis of his “photographic” knowledge of Egyptian painting and the sculptures of Partendone and Borobodur, with exoticism. His life in the refound paradise of Oceania was not, however, idyllic: it was marked by illness, a suicide attempt and in the Marquesas Islands where he moved in 1901 – a prison sentence for having instigated the natives to revolt. He died at Hiva Oa in 1902. His artistic experience that was fundamental for the contemporary Nabis painters, also influenced the studies of the Fauvists and German Expressionists of the Brücke group.The works