The Willow Tree, 1889
Oil on canvas
Fleeing what he felt was the overly civilized and decadent environment of Paris, Paul Gauguin lived periodically in the remote and rugged Brittany region of northwestern France. In works such as this, he sought to convey traditional village life, which he considered an antidote to the ills of modern society. Unlike the Impressionists, Gauguin did not aim to objectively reproduce the natural world. Rather, through a careful synthesis of exaggerated line, form, and color, he strove to capture the essence of his subjects as filtered through his own perceptions.