The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

return to surnames beginning with ''

Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1848.06.08
Place of Birth: Paris
Date of Death: 1903.05.06
Place of Death: Marquesas Islands


Paul Gauguin was a painter, print-maker and sculptor. His father Clovis Gauguin worked on the liberal paper, the National. His mother Aline Chazal was the daughter of the engraver André Chazal and French socialist writer Flora Tristan. In 1873 Gauguin married Mette-Sophie Gad, and together they had five children.


Gauguin worked from 1871 to 1882 as a stockbroker in a bank. During this period he also painted at the Académie Colarossi in Paris with Camille Pissarro, who introduced him to the Impressionist circle, with whom he began exhibiting in 1880. At this time he was painting with a typically Impressionist broken brushwork.

Gauguin shared with JW an interest in Japanese art. JW had begun to experiment with a new flattening of the picture plane in the 1860s and 1870s inspired by Japanese prints, and Gauguin made further developments in the 1880s, carrying out daring explorations into pictorial space, asymmetry and colour. Gauguin's trips to Tahiti in 1891 and 1895 were in part inspired by his fascination with non-Western cultures.

Gauguin's mature work of the late 1880s onwards was also a result of his contact with Emile Bernard whom he met up with in Pont Aven in 1888. Bernard's use of cloisonnism greatly influenced Gauguin who began to develop his own 'synthetist' technique, evident in The Vision After the Sermon (1888; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh). In late September 1888 Gauguin met Paul Sérusier, producing The Talisman (1888; Musée d'Orsay, Paris), which greatly influenced Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Edouard Vuillard and Paul Ranson in Paris, who were to form the Nabis.

On Gauguin's return from Tahiti in 1893, Paul Durand-Ruel, a dealer of JW's work, held a one-man exhibition of his work.


Rapetti, Rodolphe, 'Paul Gauguin', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 6 November 2002).