The Life and Art of Paul Gauguin
Art is said to be the expression of the soul; however, quite often, one is unable to truly know the artist by his or her works alone. So is the case of the postimpressionist painter Paul Gauguin. while the paintings of Paul Gauguin do not reveal all of his life, the paintings are very much so a reflection of Gauguin’s views on life.
Eugene-Henri-Paul Gauguin was born on June 7, 1848 in Paris, France Compton’s Encyclopedia 1). When Napoleon destroyed France’s Second Republic, Gauguin’s father, Clovis, an anti-Bonaparte journalist, moved his family to Lima, Peru. On the way to Peru, Clovis died of a heart attack, leaving his wife to support two small children, Paul being the youngest (Harmon 2).
Although Paul went through childhood without a father figure, he adjusted quite well and grew to love Peru. He saw Peru as “a perfect place, exotic, racially diverse, filled with warm and loving people, colorful—a place that he yearned to experience again,” (Harmon 2). After four years in Peru, Gauguin’s mother moved the family back to France. While Paul was still a young boy when his family left for France, his childhood in Peru later reappeared in many of his paintings. The savageness that he adopted from the Spanish ancestry in Peru explained his view of life through a canvas and paint.
As Gauguin reached adulthood, he married Mette Sopie Gad, a Danish woman, and had four children with her. He settled down as a stockbroker in Paris. Aside from his work and family, Gauguin developed a fascination with Impressionist art and made it his hobby to collect paintings. This hobby soon spread as Gauguin began to paint as well.
While Gauguin often dreamed of becoming a full time painter, he clung to his job for the security of his family. When the 1882 stock market crashed, Gauguin saw his way out of the entrapment of his job and took up painting. Upon his change in career, his wife left for Denmark and took the children, leaving Gauguin alone.
The freedom Gauguin now had allowed him to concentrate on his paintings completely. His works never even sparked interest in Paris, a rejection that left Gauguin still unsatisfied and longing for his home in Peru. He desperately longed for his own paradise. Gauguin soon decided that Tahiti would be the place where he could capture the freedom of paradise that he remembered from Peru.
As Gauguin reached Tahiti he was terribly disappointed. Missionaries had forbidden a majority of the natural traditions and rituals of the Tahitians. Gauguin wrote to Mette, saying, “[They] are sweeping away…the poetry,”(Harmon 4). Nonetheless, Gauguin realized that the missionaries had failed to tame the savageness of the women. He took one of these females, a thirteen- year -old girl, as his wife. Teha’amana, or Tehura, as she was also known, brought great happiness to Gauguin’s life and bore a child. During this time in Tahiti, Gauguin produced such works...