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.
Faaturuma (Melancholic), 1891
Oil on canvas
"Disillusioned with modern society, Paul Gauguin left France for Tahiti in 1891 in search of an earthly paradise that he imagined was untouched by civilization. Upon arriving, he realized that colonialism had all but eradicated traditional Tahitian culture.
Here, a Tahitian woman wears a Western-style dress and gold marriage band introduced by Catholic missionaries. In order to emphasize the “exoticness” of his subject, Gauguin gave his painting a Tahitian title, Faaturuma. This roughly translates to melancholic or brooding; Gauguin appears to be commenting on the sadness of this lost paradise."
In this vibrantly colored landscape of a French peasant out with his dog, Paul Gauguin employed the tropical palette he developed while living in Tahiti from 1891 to 1893. Typical of his later production, Gauguin painted on a burlap-like fabric whose coarse and uneven texture was a deliberate component of the picture’s overall appearance. Gauguin intended the surface to convey the character of ancient wall murals. Commercially unsuccessful in Paris, Gauguin returned to Polynesia in 1895 and remained there the rest of his life.