Tahitian Woman and Boy

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903)
Oil on canvas 
37-1/4 x 24-3/8 in. (94.6 x 61.9 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

Gauguin sailed for Tahiti in 1891. A former stockbroker and primarily self-taught artist, he left behind both his family and what he regarded as the bourgeois constraints of modern French society, but what he found in the South Seas was not the primitive paradise he’d hoped for. Tahiti was already a French colony; the wicker chair and the high-necked gown shown in this portrait testify to the presence of European merchants and missionaries. Despite his initial disappointment and his rapidly declining health Gauguin’s years in Tahiti were the most important of his career. Drawing inspiration from his tropical surroundings and a cast of island models (the female sitter for this portrait may have been his teenaged consort, Pau’ura), Gauguin forged a new vision for modern art: sensuous, mysterious, radiantly, riotously colorful.


[Ambroise Vollard, Paris].
Moll, Vienna.
Mrs. Austin Mardon, Ardross Castle, Scotland, 1923 (sale, London, Sotheby's, 24-25 November 1964, lot 32, to);
[Hammer Galleries, New York, sold 1965 to];
Norton Simon, Los Angeles, gift 1976 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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