Who Was Paul Gauguin?

The French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin was an important figure in the Symbolist art movement of the early 1900s. His use of bold colors, exaggerated body proportions and stark contrasts in his paintings set him apart from his contemporaries, helping to pave the way for the Primitivism art movement.

The Early Life of Paul Gauguin

Famous French artist Paul Gauguin, born in Paris on June 7, 1848, created his own unique painting style. Known for bold colors, simplified forms and strong lines, he didn't have any art formal training. Gauguin instead followed his own vision, abandoning both his family and artistic conventions.
Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, but his family moved to Peru when he was a young child. His journalist father died on the journey to South America. Eventually returning to France, Gauguin took to the seas as a merchant marine and then worked as a stockbroker. In 1873, he married a Danish woman named Mette Gad. The couple eventually had five children together.

An Artist Ahead Of His Time

Paul Gauguin began painting in his spare time but quickly became serious about his hobby. One of his works was accepted into the "Salon of 1876," an important art show in Paris. Cmille Pissarro could have been a famous artist in his own right, but instead he chose to become a mentor and supporter of beginning artists. Gauguin met Pissarro around this time, and his work attracted the interest of the Impressionists when he exhibited at their first group show in 1874. The Impressionists were a group of revolutionary artists who challenged traditional methods and subjects and had been largely rejected by the French art establishment. Paul Gauguin and his colleagues were invited to show at the group's fourth exhibition in 1879, and his work appeared among the works of Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and other artistic greats.
Paul Gauguin was born on June 7, 1848 in Paris. By 1883, he had stopped working as a stockbroker so that he could fully devote himself to his art. He also soon parted ways from his wife and children, and eventually went to Brittany, France. In 1888, he created one of his most famous paintings, "Vision of the Sermon." The boldly colored work showed the Biblical tale of Jacob wrestling with the angel. The following year, he painted "The Yellow Christ," a striking portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Paul Gauguin produced some fascinating art in the late 19th century. He was a colorful character who referred to himself as a savage and claimed to have Inca blood. Fond of alcohol and carousing, Gauguin eventually contracted syphilis and was friends with fellow artist Vincent van Gogh, but their time together ended after van Gogh pulled a razor on Gauguin during an argument. That same year, Gauguin produced the now-famous oil painting "Vision After the Sermon."

The Epic Work of Paul Gauguin in Tahiti

Paul Gauguin sought to escape the constructions of European society in 1891, and he thought that Tahiti might offer him some type of personal freedom. Upon moving to Tahiti, he was disappointed to find that French colonial authorities had westernized much of the island, so he chose to settle among the native peoples, away from the Europeans living in the capital.
Gauguin spent time in Tahiti, where he developed a fascination with the local culture and art. He borrowed from the native culture as well as his own to create new and innovative works. In “La Orana Maria,” he transformed the Christian figures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus into a Tahitian mother and child. Many other works were created during this time, including a carved sculpture called “Oviri” a word that originated from the Tahitian word for “savage,” although according to Gauguin, the sculpted female figure was actually a portrayal of a goddess. Paul Gauguin was known to have a predilection for young girls and became involved with a 13-year-old Tahitian girl, who served as a model for several of his paintings.
In 1893, Paul Gauguin returned to France to show some off his Tahitian pieces. Critics and art buyers didn’t know what to make of his primitivist style. He lost his power to convince and influence the art market. Soon after, he returned once again to French Polynesia. He continued to paint during this time, creating one of his masterpieces the canvas painting "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" is Gauguin's depiction of the human life cycle.

All You Need to Know About Gauguin's Personal Style

The style of Gauguin's paintings is a sharp change from Impressionism, which he had been exposed to early in life. While the Impressionists emphasized the effects of light and movement, Gauguin was interested in expressing pure emotion through his work. In addition to this emphasis on emotion, Gauguin's other major stylistic difference from the Impressionists was his use of color. Gauguin started painting with vibrant colors while living in Paris. He later became interested in the idea of using color symbolically, and even held a color theory class to teach his ideas to other artists. In general, he used strong colors to indicate a positive feeling and muted colors for a less positive emotion. In his paintings, Gauguin used color to express emotion and to give the viewer a sense of the spiritual world. While he never completely abandoned this use of color, his style changed drastically when he moved to Tahiti. Color can be an important element in an ecommerce product image. It's best to avoid using too many different colors because it makes the product hard to discern. When you try out different color schemes for your product images, make sure you're able to tell what the product is at a glance.

The Death of Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin moved to the more remote Marquesas Islands in 1901. By this time, his health had been declining; he had experienced several heart attacks and continued to suffer from his advancing case of syphilis. He died alone on May 3, 1903, at his isolated island home, having nearly run out of money. It wasn't until after his death that Gauguin's art began receiving great acclaim, eventually influencing the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.



This is one of the most renowned works of the famous French painter, Paul Gauguin. It is one of the most famous paintings of Post-Impressionism. It consists of three major figure groups illustrating the questions posed in the title. It is supposed to be read from right to left according to the artist himself. Gauguin was in despair when he undertook this painting due to the death of his daughter earlier that year. It is said he planned to take his own life after finishing it and even made an unsuccessful attempt. The painting is the most colossal canvas Paul Gauguin ever painted and it explains in detail his entire philosophical and pictorial doctrine. Even he regarded it as his masterwork.


Paul Gauguin married a native woman named Teha’amana during his first visit to Tahiti. During the night, his young wife was startled with fear on seeing his figure appear from the darkness. She mistook him for “one of those legendary demons or specters, the Tupapaus, that filled the sleepless nights of her people” and she fled into the jungle. He was inspired by this incident to paint this extremely well known artwork which his supporters consider to be a masterwork of poetic suggestion, mystery, and symbolism. Paul Gauguin's painting is also infamous, especially among feminists, and has been called "a veritable encyclopaedia of colonial racism and misogyny".


Our framed print of The Yellow Christ by Paul Gauguin is a reproduction of his most regarded Symbolist work. It shows the crucifixion of Christ taking place in 19th century northern France while women are gathered in prayer. The composition is noted for various symbolism, like the man running in the background reflects the 19th century desire to run away from city life and get back to the “primitive”, and much simpler life that was before. It is Gauguin’s most renowned artwork before his years in Tahiti.


Paul Gauguin painted several paintings of native women of Tahiti dressed in traditional Tahitian attire and western dresses. One composition depicts a traditionally dressed woman and behind her is a woman wearing a high necked western dress. It can be inferred from the white tiare flower on the ear of the traditionally dressed woman that she is seeking a husband, hence the title. Paul Gauguin’s painting "When Will You Marry?" was sold by the family of Rudolf Staechelin to Sheikha Al Mayassa for $300 million in February 2015, which remains the highest price ever paid for a work of art.


Nevermore, by Paul Gauguin, was created due to stress caused by losing his daughter and financial difficulties. The painting is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous 1845 poem The Raven, which tells the story of a talking raven’s visit to a distraught lover lamenting the loss of his love. The raven instigates the lover’s distress with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore” and he falls into madness. Gauguin’s painting shows a Tahitian girl in an awkward pose with an expression of poetic sadness perhaps lamenting the physical or symbolic death of someone or something. Gauguin simultaneously represents reality and illusion adding to the mystery of Nevermore, considered among his most philosophically and poetically rich works. Nevermore was voted Britain’s most romantic painting in a poll conducted by The Art Fund charity.