The Wayback Machine -
Tahiti: Paul Gauguin



Paul Gauguin, along with Van Gogh, was one of the major post-impressionist painters. A master artist and influential founder of modern art, he abandoned European civilization to spend his days in the rugged Marquesas Islands, Tahiti - rejecting "everything that is artificial and conventional." 
This Web site looks at the last few years in the life of Paul Gauguin.

An impressionistic portrait of Paul Gauguin.

Tahiti women painted by Paul Gauguin.

It was not until after his passing that Gauguin's genius for colour harmonies and use of large flat areas of non-naturalistic colour were recognized by the art world. Paul Gauguin took his greatest inspiration from primitive subjects and indigenous peoples, and his work took on a power and profound sense of mystery from the tropical colours and Polynesian culture of the South Seas. Paul Gauguin's art has within it a certain power expressed through simplicity and local charm

The village of Atuona in the shadow of the peak
of Temetiu was the location of Gauguin's final home.

Monsieur Charles le Moine was a painter from Vait-hua who lived in the Marquesas in the early twentieth century. He had studied in Paris, had been Governor of the Gambia Islands and had finally settled among the palms and orchards of the Marquesas Islands. He was also a friend and student of Paul Gauguin the master.

Tahiti peaks painted by Paul Gauguin.

In about 1930, Charles le Moine gave the following recollections of Paul Gauguin. At this time, nothing remained of Paul Gauguin's house and studio but a few faint traces which were rapidly disappearing beneath the jungle growth. Gauguin's final years saw him in very poor health. He is said to have suffered with his feet and legs being very bad and he had to tie them up each day. He could not wear shoes but he painted and drank and painted some more.

Gauguin had been paid five hundred francs a month from a Paris dealer and he gave away everything. He was a worker and, drunk or sober, he would paint. Early in the morning he was at work at his easel in the studio or under the trees, and every day he painted till the light was gone. Next to his workshop, there was a shelter for a horse and cart which was the only wheeled vehicle in the Marquesas. His only use for the cart was to carry him and his easel and chair to scenes he would paint. When the pain became too bad, he would inject himself with morphine and he would drink wine and talk and paint.

Gauguin had no wife or woman but he took one now and then. He lived alone, save for a half Chinese boy who cooked and cleaned for him. He would not talk politics but after the light had gone he would sit at the organ in his studio and made people cry with his music. Then one morning the boy came and found him dead with a smile upon his face.

Paul Gauguin's house, Marquesas Islands.

It was said that the government hated him because he cursed it for not letting the natives keep their customs. The church hated him because he ridiculed it yet they still buried him in a Catholic ceremony. His body was carried by four Marquesans up the trail to the cemetery. Gauguin's grave, at that time, could not be located in the cemetery. Much of the cemetery was covered with long creeping vines and it was thought that perhaps under these was the dust of the painter who, more than any other man, made the Marquesas Islands known to the world.

Stamps highlighting the paintings of Paul Gauguin.

Tahiti Postcards and Picture Galleries

Oceania Postcards and Picture Galleries

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