Paul Gauguin

GAUGUIN, Paul (Eugene Henri) French painter born in Paris, France, June 1848 and died on the Marquesas Islands, May, 1903. His father was a journalist and his maternal grandmother was Flora Tristan, a Peruvian writer of Socialist pamphlets. In 1851 he went with his parents to Lima, Peru, to visit his mother`s family. There his father died, and in 1855 Paul and his mother returned to France, where he attended the Jesuit school in Orleans. At 17 he left school to enter the merchant marine, and later joined the navy. At the close of the Franco-Prussian War he became a clerk in a stockbroking office, prospered, and in 1873 married Mette Sophie Gad of Copenhagen, Denmark.

About this time he became interested in art, began painting as a hobby, and had a few lessons from Camille Pissarro in the impressionistic technique, which he later abandoned. In 1883 he gave up business for painting, and with his family moved to Brittany (Pont-Aven) in 1886. Pressed by poverty, his wife and their five children went to live with her family in Denmark, and in 1887 Gauguin went to Martinique. At the end of a year he returned to Brittany.

To this period (1888) belongs his Christ Jaune (Yellow Christ) painted with great simplicity, in pure color, and with something of the quality of the Italian primitives. He also spent a few months in Arles with Vincent Van Gogh.

In 1891 Gauguin went to Tahiti in the South Seas to live and paint. He returned to Paris in August 1893 and gave an exhibition which attracted some attention but was not financially successful. After a visit to his family in Copenhagen, he returned to Tahiti (1895), and for a while worked as a shipping clerk in the Board of Public Works at Papeete. About 1900 he settled at Atuona on Hiva Oa Island in the Marquesas Islands.

Besides his paintings he produced wood carvings, sculptures, lithographs, etchings, and work in stained glass. He also wrote the book Noa Noa (published in 1906) describing his first year on Tahiti. His Intimate Journals were published in 1921. His paintings-brilliant in color, with great simplicity of forms, of compelling decorative quality, and pervaded by a feeling of repose-have had a marked effect on modern painting and decorative design. Major galleries of Europe and America have examples of his work.

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