Our Artists

Paul Gauguin

A painter, sculptor and ceramic artist, Paul Gauguin was one of the most influential artists of the post-impressionist period. Claiming the "right to dare all", he showed great independence from the standards of the time, especially through the symbolic dimension of his work and his use of colour, which helped towards the birth of Fauvism.


Paul Gaugin and Impressionism

Paul Gauguin began his career as a painter late in life.  At the age of 35 he decided to live from his painting, which had been only a hobby until then.  After a childhood spent in his mother’s home country of Peru, he spent 6 years at sea as a merchant navy officer.

His tutor, a lover and collector of art, introduced him to the impressionists. His encounter with Camille Pissarro in 1874 was decisive.  Gauguin’s first paintings show his influence (The Seine at the Pont d’Iena, snowy weather 1875). From 1876 to 1886, Gauguin exhibited his paintings regularly alongside the Impressionists. From this period he retained a liking for painting outdoors, using bright colours and a sense of independence with regard to conventions. 

The Pont d’Aven School  

Gauguin moved away from  Impressionism, rejecting the vision of art as a reproduction of reality. In 1886, he took his first trip to Pont-Aven in Brittany and painted the first picture that heralded his characteristic style: Émile Bernard in Pont-Aven.  Two years later, in 1888, during Gauguin’s second stay in Brittany, they founded the Pont-Aven School, the definition of a new aesthetic.

Inspired by symbolism and cloisonnism (solid colour surrounded by a dark line), Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard perfected the code of synthetism, which was characterised by a simplification of forms and the elimination of detail. 
In late 1888, Gauguin spent two months in Arles working with Vincent Van Gogh. After his stay, which ended in the famous episode in which Van Gogh cut off his ear, Gauguin went back to Pont-Aven, which had become a real artists’ colony. 

Paul Gauguin and Polynesia

In 1891, Gauguin left for Tahiti where, thrilled by the beauty of the countryside and the people, he produced a large number of works. The paintings of this period are characterised by the use of vivid colours, simple forms and an abandonment of perspective. Gauguin became passionate about Maori culture and also created many sculptures and statuettes inspired by Polynesian myths and legends.  
Gauguin returned to France between 1893 and 1895. An exhibition of his Tahitian works was organised in Paris but did not meet with the success the artist had hoped for, despite the enthusiasm of certain critics.

Gauguin’s return to Tahiti was marked by a decline in his state of health.  In 1897, he completed what he considered to be his "pictorial will": Where do we come from?  What are we?  Where are we going?

In 1901, he left France to live on the Marqueseas Islands, where he died two years later.


Jardin sous la neige, Garden in the snow, 1879
Étude de nu ou Suzanne cousant, Study of a nude or Suzanne sewing, 1880
Conversation dans les prés, Conversation in the fields, 1888
Le gardien de porcs, 1888
Vincent Van Gogh peignant les tournesols, Van Gogh painting sunflowers, 1888
Les Alyscamps, The Alyscamps, 1888
La Belle Angèle, Portrait of Madame Satre 1889
Autoportrait au Christ jaune, Self Portrait with Yellow Christ, 1889
Femmes de Tahiti, Tahitian women on the beach, 1891
Fatata te miti (Près de la mer), Near the sea, 1892
Autoportrait au chapeau, Self portrait wearing hat, 1893
D'où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?, Where do we come from? 
What are we?  Where are we going? 1897-1898
Deux Tahitiennes, Two Tahitian women, 1899
Et l'or de leur corps, And the gold of their bodies, 1901
Cavaliers sur la plage, Horsemen on the beach, 1902


Normandy and the Impressionists, Museum of Fine Art, Rouen, from 4th June to 26th September 2010:
As part of the "Impressionist Normandy" festival, which is due to take place in 2010 throughout Normandy, the Rouen Museum of Fine Art will be presenting this exhibition that includes around 100 works by the greatest painters of the genre on the theme of "Rouen and its region".

Useful links

Paul Gauguin at the Musée d'Orsay
Paul Gauguin at the National Gallery of Art in Washington
Pont-Aven website
Le Groupe des Nabis, a group of artists influenced by Gauguin and the Pont-Aven School. 

Paul Gauguin 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Nafea faa ipoipo / When are you getting married ? Prints and posters Tahitian Landscape

Nationality(ies) : French
Born on : 07/06/1848
Died on : 08/05/1903
Profile : Ceramist, Painter, Sculptor
Artistic current(s) : Pont Aven School , Post impressionism
Theme(s) covered : Fine Art, Landscapes - Nature, Portraits - Characters