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Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin (June 7, 1848 - May 9, 1903) was an Impressionist painter.


The Swineherd, Brittany
Painted 1888
Larger version

Born Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin in Paris, France, he descended from Spanish settlers in South America and the viceroy of Peru, and spent his early childhood in Lima. After his education in Orleans, France, Gauguin spent six years sailing around the world in the Merchant Marine and then in the French Navy. Upon his return to France in 1870, he took a job as a broker's assistant. His guardian, Gustave Arosa, a successful businessman and art collector, introduced Gauguin to the impressionists.

A successful stockbroker, Gauguin became a collector and amateur painter. By 1884 Gauguin had moved with his family to Copenhagen, where he unsuccessfully pursued a business career. Driven to paint full-time, he returned to Paris in 1885, leaving his family in Denmark. Without adequate subsistence, his wife and children were forced to return to her family.

Like so many great minds, in particular his friend Vincent Van Gogh with whom he spent nine weeks with in Arles painting, Paul Gauguin suffered from bouts of depression and at one time attempted suicide.

In 1891, financially destitute, he sailed to the Tropics to escape European civilization and "everything that is artificial and conventional." He remained first in Tahiti and later in the Marquesas Islands for most of the rest of his life, returning to France one time only.

He was a very important post-impressionist French painter, whose work helped provide the basis of modern art. Gauguin's bold experimentation with coloring led directly to the fauvist style of the 20th century.

He is buried in the Atuona Cemetery, Atuona, Hiva-Oa, Iles Marquises, French Polynesia.

The record price paid for a Gauguin painting is US$35 million.

Some of his approximately 150 significant works are:

Ia Orana Maria (Hail, Mary)
The Seine in Paris between the Pont d'léna and the Pont de Grenelle;
Haere Mai;
In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse;
Study of a Nude. Suzanne Sewing;
Mandolina and Flowers;
Bouquet;
Washerwomen at Pont-Aven;
At the Pond;
Night Café at Arles;
Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers;
The Alyscamps;
The Yellow Christ;
La Belle Angèle (Portrait of Madame Satre);
Tahitian Women, or On the Beach;
Spirit of the Dead Watching;
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?



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