Interesting Facts about Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin's Interesting Facts

Who was Paul Gauguin, and what did he do?

Paul Gauguin was a Post-Impressionist painter from France. Gauguin's experimental use of color and Synthetic style, which were unique from Impressionism, was not appreciated until after his death. He spent ten years in French Polynesia near the end of his life.

People or landscapes from the historical period are shown in the paintings. His work influenced the French avant-garde as well as many modern painters, including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and he is most remembered for his friendship with Vincent and Theo van Gogh. Gauguin's art gained popularity after his death, thanks in part to the efforts of dealer Ambroise Vollard, who staged late-career shows of his work and assisted in the organization of two major posthumous exhibitions in Paris.


What is Paul Gauguin known for?

As a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, and writer, Gauguin was a key figure in the Symbolist movement. Under the influence of the cloisonnist style, his portrayal of the intrinsic significance of the objects in his paintings prepared the path for Primitivism and the return to the pastoral.

He was also a strong supporter of wood engraving and woodcuts as artistic mediums.

What was the source of Paul Gauguin's inspiration?

Paul Gauguin was influenced by Japanese prints, their colors, and their subjects. Stained-glass windows and their black-bordered shapes influenced the artist.

Gauguin was the father of at least eight children.

Gauguin fathered a kid with a mistress in France and had at least two children with the girls he married in Tahiti, in addition to the five children he had with his Danish wife Mette Sophie Gad. Jean René and Emile Marae a Tai, two of his sons, went on to become artists in their own right.

While Gauguin was still living, three of his children perished. According to some historians, he had more children than is recorded or acknowledged.


Flora Tristan's grandson was Gauguin.

Flora Tristan, a French feminist writer, was Paul Gauguin's maternal grandmother! At the age of 17, the French-Peruvian novelist married engraver André Chazal, but the marriage was an unmitigated failure.

Flora was frequently humiliated by Chazal, who was angry, jealous, and abusive. In 1825, she managed to flee his clutches with her children, including Aline, Paul Gauguin's future mother. Chazal ultimately apprehended her and abducted her daughter. Before being condemned to 20 years of forced labor, he attempted to shoot his ex-wife with a pistol in 1838.

Gauguin spent a major part of his life in poverty.

Although his work is now among the most valuable in the world, Paul Gauguin had to live a very basic existence during his lifetime.

For a time, he worked as a banker, but after losing his job, he decided to devote himself to painting, which meant living a more modest lifestyle.

He was an outspoken opponent of colonialism.

Gauguin despised colonial behavior and the European mentality. When the artist discovered Papeete, he was extremely dissatisfied. Gauguin expected to find the simpler way of life he was yearning for there, but instead, he discovered a Westernized civilization.

As a result, he traveled away from the city in quest of the genuine and primal persona he desired. His rhetoric was anti-colonial, but the way he idealized the "primitive" was unmistakably western and exoticizing.

He also sought out young girls from the island to take care of his needs, as did many other solitary settlers. When Gauguin returned to Tahiti near the end of his life, he reverted to the behavior he had previously condemned. He gave in to drunkenness, depressed and unwell, and disillusioned by life on the island.


When will you marry? Is one of the most valuable works of art in the world.

Gauguin's painting When will you marry? is worth $300 million. (Quand te maries-tu?) was sold to an unidentified buyer in 2015.

It was the most costly work of art in the world at the time. In 2017, it was surpassed by "Salvator Mundi," which sold for 450 million dollars.

He had an insatiable desire for the exotic.

Gauguin spent several years with his parents in Lima as a kid. The experience stayed with him for the rest of his life, and he dedicated much of his time to locating and recreating the Peruvian lifestyle he recalled.

He visited Tahiti twice during his hunt and eventually resided there for several years beginning in 1891.

Annah the Javanese, his mistress, plundered his residence.

Gauguin's resources ran out after two years at Papeete, and he was compelled to return to Paris to put his ability to work. Sadly, his two years of artistic development in Tahiti were not rewarded, and his work was rejected. Gauguin traveled to Paris with his new mistress, Annah the Javanese, after receiving an inheritance from his uncle.

They proceeded to get several paintings that Gauguin's old landlady had pledged as security, but he was unsuccessful and ended up in a brawl. Gauguin discovered that his studio had been ransacked upon his return from two months in the hospital (along with morphine and alcohol addiction). Annah the Javanese, his mistress, had taken everything.


He had a strong affinity for Jesus Christ.

Paul Gauguin was lonely and misunderstood during his lifetime. He compared his suffering and burden to that of Jesus Christ on numerous occasions. He even went so far as to depict Christ with some of his facial traits in his paintings.

Vincent Van Gogh and Gauguin had a tumultuous relationship.

Gauguin and Van Gogh, a fellow Post-Impressionist painter, were close friends who corresponded about their theoretical and practical artistic understandings and even collaborated. Their relationship, however, shattered, in part because Gauguin appeared unable to cope with Van Gogh's unpredictable behavior and depression difficulties.

The two artists became good friends around 1888. In Arles, they lived together for two months. They lived a wicked existence, fueled by absinthe and art. In every aspect, they were polar opposites. Van Gogh, a prolific painter, drew inspiration from nature, whereas Gauguin relied on his imagination. A violent argument occurred on December 23, 1888, during which Van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a knife.

Van Gogh's ear was mutilated, and he was suspected of doing it.

Gauguin and Van Gogh lived together in Arles in 1988, where they enjoyed painting while debating the ultimate purpose of art the rest of the time. When the fights became too heated, Van Gogh was left with a damaged ear.

In Arles, there were also inquiries and interrogations of the artists. The conclusion: Gauguin was the one who cut off Van Gogh's ear, and he did so with a sword rather than a razer, as alleged. Van Gogh may have claimed self-mutilation with a razor to protect Gauguin.


Synthetism was created by Gauguin.

Artists such as Pissarro and Cezanne taught Gauguin how to paint. He was also a member of the Impressionists and was asked to exhibit alongside them. Gauguin, like many other artists, was determined to develop his own voice.

His personal style, mixed with influences from his travels, led to him assembling parts of formal aspects synthesized with emotions, resulting in "Synthetism." His painting style consisted of broad color planes, basic figures, and sharp contours. They had a directness about them that they didn't have before.

Gauguin has a crater on Mercury named after him.

The International Astronomical Union names the craters on Mercury after deceased artists, writers, and cultural icons.

Gauguin received this accolade several years after his death, in 1979. Gauguin is a seventy-kilometer-wide crater in Mercury's Borealis quadrangle.

Picasso was greatly influenced by Gauguin.

The Salon d'Automne in 1903 and 1906 included some of Gauguin's art, including massive, heavy sculptures of naked women with exaggerated features. This piqued Picasso's interest in Gauguin's art and style. When Picasso viewed the pieces brought to Paris by contemporaries like Paco Durio, the artist had already piqued his curiosity.

Gauguin's art reflected the primitivism he once pursued, and this strongly influenced Picasso's development of Cubism. Picasso drew inspiration for his Les Demoiselles d'Avignon forms from Gauguin's work depicting mask-like characteristics in his figures. Gauguin had to be made of something special to inspire the great Picasso.

The life of Gauguin has been documented on film.

Gauguin passed away in 1903, but his work has been immortalized in movies. Leading performers have played his role, including Anthony Quinn in "Lust for Life," Donald Sutherland in "Oviri," and Vincent Cassel in "Voyage to Tahiti." Many documentaries on the artist and his life have been made and are still available today.


After the 1882 French stock market disaster, Gauguin painted every day.

Gauguin lost his job as a stockbroker as a result of the market meltdown. He began painting every day to relieve the tension of it all and to create a spirit of positivity. Even though he enjoyed it, it didn't bring in any money, causing a wedge between him and his wife's family.

After being eclipsed by fellow artist Georges Seurat at an exhibition, Gauguin relocated to the Caribbean.

Gauguin's piece was included in France's inaugural Impressionist show, but it was utterly eclipsed by Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

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Gauguin worked as a sailor and a stockbroker before becoming a painter.

Paul Gauguin was a late bloomer as a painter, and his early years were distinguished by a divergent path. Indeed, he joined the merchant navy as a sailor at the age of 17 and set sail for Rio de Janeiro. This was a homecoming for the Parisian-born future artist, who had grown up in South America when his parents fled France for Lima to escape Napoleon III's authoritarian tyranny.

He quit the navy after being promoted to lieutenant and fought in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. A new existence, the world of finance, beckoned. He became a stockbroker with the support of a family friend. This supplied Gauguin with a steady source of income until the 1882 Paris Bourse Crash. This tragic turn of circumstances provided the artist with the opportunity to pursue a new career after discovering a renewed interest in painting.

Gauguin assisted in the construction of the Panama Canal.

Gauguin joined the workers building the Panama Canal for a month in 1887. "I have to dig from 5.30 a.m. till 6 p.m. under the tropical sun and rain," he said to his wife in a letter. The mosquitoes kill me alive at night." During the canal's construction, about 25,000 workers died. Gauguin, on the other hand, became ill with dysentery and malaria.


In Tahiti, he began a new life.

Gauguin did not stay in France and left in 1891 for Tahiti, where he was commissioned by the French government to explore the island's culture and scenery. Gauguin was able to pay for the trip thanks to Edgar Degas' purchase of his painting The Beautiful Angel and the public sale of his works.

He traveled to the Marquesas Islands after Tahiti. He ultimately flourished during this period of isolation from Western society, living on the tropical surroundings and vibrant colors that gave his artwork a new lease on life and creativity.

Gauguin is a descendant of the Spanish-Peruvian aristocracy.

Don Mariano Tristán Moscoso, Gauguin's great-grandfather, was a member of the old Spanish nobility Tristán Moscoso family of Arequipa, Peru, which dates back to the 17th century. When Don Mariano was stationed as commander of Peruvian troops in Spain in the early 1800s, he met his future wife, French-born Anne-Pierre Laisney.

The couple's union was deemed unlawful by the Tristán Moscoso family in Peru since they neglected to file an appropriate marriage license. This backfired when Don Mariano died unexpectedly in 1807, leaving his widow and two children without access to his family's substantial inheritance. Laisney and her daughter Flora Célestine, Gauguin's grandmother, lobbied for Don Mariano's estate to be legalized. Flora and her family, including Gauguin, were accepted into South America's privileged social class despite their plight ultimately failing.

He spent a significant portion of his boyhood in Peru.

Gauguin's parents moved the family to Lima, Peru when he was a child to be closer to Gauguin's maternal relatives. Clovis Gauguin, Gauguin's father, had planned to create a magazine in Lima, but he died on the ship.

The family stayed in Lima for another five years, until Gauguin was seven years old; this formative experience is credited with inspiring Gauguin's interest in Primitivism.


To pay for therapy, he was forced to sell his paintings.

Gauguin went through a terrible period in his life in the late 1890s. His sadness was exacerbated by the loss of his daughter Aline in 1897. He was also recovering from a leg wound sustained during a battle in Concarneau a few years before.

The artist was so distressed that he attempted suicide. He eventually sold his paintings and purchased morphine and arsenic to put an end to his suffering.

Paul Gauguin was a key figure in the Post-Impressionist movement.

Gauguin reflected the spirit of Post-Impressionism with his experiments with color and form. Through mysticism, he used flattened forms to allow the color to become the dominant means of conveying meaning. He evolved his theoretical approach to painting based on imagination during the course of his career.

Gauguin's biggest admirer was Edgar Degas.

Both Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin admired the work of the other. Degas, a more well-known and accomplished artist, was a vocal and consistent supporter of Gauguin. In 1893, Gauguin's work was featured in an exhibition curated by Degas, and Degas continued to buy Gauguin's work until his death. Gauguin's longest-lasting and most supportive friendship was with them.


Leading actors have represented Gauguin.

Gauguin or the period in which he lived has been the subject of a number of popular films. In the 1956 Van Gogh movie Lust for Life, Anthony Quinn played Gauguin. Donald Sutherland portrayed him in the 1986 biographical Gauguin film Oviri, and his son Kiefer portrayed him in the 2003 film Paradise Found. Vincent Cassel portrayed the artist in the 2018 film Voyage to Tahiti, which was based on his experiences.

He worked hard to develop his public presence.

Gauguin was a brilliant thinker who meticulously planned how he would be seen. He never came across as tortured or morose, but rather as a free spirit who created on the spur of the moment and outside of the studio.

In letters to pals, he claimed, for example, that he labored without a preliminary sketch for his masterwork. What is our origin story? What are we doing here, and where are we going? – despite the fact that an early sketch of the piece exists.

Gauguin possessed a sizable collection of artifacts, including notable works.

Gauguin amassed a diverse collection that included drawings, prints, Tahitian sculptures, a small collection of pornographic images, and pottery. Paintings by his friends and Modernist colleagues who remained in Western Europe, such as Manet, Monet, Pissarro, and CĂ©zanne, were among the objects.

He started building his collection before he left France and steadily added to it over the course of his life, transporting it over foreign waterways with him.


In Atuona, he built a tiny but considerable estate.

Gauguin made his home in Atuona, the capital of the Marquesas Island group, in 1901. He purchased a tiny plot of land and had a two-story house built by local carpenters on it. He gave it the name Maison du Jouir (House of Pleasure) and moved in with his fourteen-year-old wife, a cook, and two attendants. He spent the rest of his life there, expanding his collection and painting in his upstairs studio.

Picasso was greatly influenced by Gauguin.

Picasso witnessed Gauguin's Primitivism in paintings brought back to Paris by current artists like as Paco Durrio, and it was a key influence on his aesthetics before he arrived at Cubism.

Picasso became interested in Gauguin's work and style after seeing his works at the Salons d'Automne in 1903 and 1906, which included enormous, massive sculptures of nude women with exaggerated features. The mask-like aspect of Gauguin's figures inspired Picasso to create the forms seen in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Gauguin spent most of his life in terrible health.

Gauguin's physique was ravaged by years of drunkenness and sexual immorality, which resulted in him contracting syphilis. He grew really frail. He was injured in a bar fight, and his ankle never fully recovered. His syphilis exacerbated the open sores that resulted from this wound. Gauguin drank more alcohol and used morphine, laudanum, and opium to alleviate the agony, which exacerbated his illnesses.


The final years of his life are the most enigmatic.

When Gauguin died in 1903, the majority of his paintings, letters, and collections were auctioned at Atuona, and many of the items were destroyed due to their pornographic nature. Scholars have little knowledge about his late years due to the loss of most of his letters shortly after his death, and can only speculate on his health before his death. His eyesight most likely deteriorated, and he was probably less poor and "primitive" than he claimed.

He tried to commit suicide.

Gauguin attempted but failed to commit suicide by self-poisoning. The effort took place while he was away from his family on Marquesas Island. He'd left them to pursue a life in a more natural setting or under more natural surroundings. Gauguin spent the final years of his life here, preoccupied with his own mortality.

During this time, he did produce some art; figures from his past paintings reappeared in his new pieces. He also painted like he did when he first started, not devoting as much time to his work as if he had other commitments. "Where do we come from?" he asked in his final painting before attempting suicide. What Are We, Exactly? "How are we going to get there?" (Where are we going? What are our names? Where are we going?)

Before committing suicide, he completed one final autobiographical effort.

His work is a painting. What is our origin story? What Are We, Exactly? What Are Our Plans? (Where are we going? What are our names? Where are we going?) Gauguin's life is summed up in this quote. The big fresco was created using pieces from his past works. It was Gauguin's final work before attempting suicide.

Gauguin died of a morphine overdose and a heart attack in 1903.


The majority of his paintings, writings, and prized collections were auctioned after his death. The majority, however, were of a pornographic character and were destroyed!

After Gauguin's death, his work became commercially and critically successful.

Gauguin, unlike Van Gogh, was able to sell his own works, although at a modest price. However, he was mostly ignored by critics and collectors and never built a significant market for himself.

His paintings became famous among collectors soon after his death in 1903, especially after the Salon d'Automne in 1906 featured 227 of them. He was recognized as a pivotal player in the twentieth-century evolution of Primitivism and Post-Impressionism.


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