Paul Gauguin's Paintings

who was paul gauguin?

Gauguin was a key figure of the Symbolist movement. His style explored the intrinsic essence of the subject matter of his artworks and cleared the path for subsequent movements like Primitivism.

early years

He enrolled in a military training academy at the age of 14 before heading to Orléans for his last year. Gauguin joined the commercial navy as a pilot’s aide.

first artworks

Gauguin began painting in his spare time in 1873, at the same time he became a stockbroker. He befriended Camille Pissarro and paid him visits on Sundays to create in his yard.

return to paris

Gauguin originally struggled to re-enter the Parisian art community, and he spent his first winter back in true poverty, forced to work a succession of demeaning occupations.

synthetism & cloisonnism

Gauguin’s work progressed towards Cloisonnism while influenced by Japonism and traditional folk art. The Yellow Christ (1889) is frequently recognized as a typical Cloisonnist piece.

time in martinique

After visiting Panama, Gauguin spent the summer of 1887 on the island of Martinique. During his visit, Gauguin completed 11 documented works, several of which appear to be inspired by his hut.

tahiti trip

His stated intention was to flee European society and “anything unnatural and traditional.” He spent the first three months in Papeete, which was already heavily impacted by Franco and European civilization.

return to france

Gauguin returned to France in August of 1893, where he proceeded to depict Tahitian subjects such as Sacred Spring, Sweet Dreams (1894).

return to tahiti

Gauguin returned in September of 1895 and spent the following six years enjoying a seemingly happy existence as an artist near Papeete. 

marquesas islands

Since discovering a series of finely crafted Marquesan vases and swords in Papeete in his first weeks in Tahiti, Gauguin had nourished his ambition to settle in the Marquesas.

historical significance

Gauguin was motivated and driven by the raw strength and purity of those other nations’ so-called Primitive Art. He is regarded as a post-Impressionist artist.

style and technique

Gauguin used a method referred to as peinture à l’essence. He also used glass to test some of his pre-existing works, reproducing an underside picture onto the glass surface using watercolor or gouache.

some famous works

Some of his most famous works include Tahitian Women on a Beach (1891), Vision After the Sermon (1888), and Two Tahitian Women (1899).