Paul Gauguin - Woman by the sea 1892

Woman by the sea 1892
Woman by the sea
1892 oil/canvas 92x74cm
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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From Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires:
This work is mentioned in a list of paintings made during his first stay in Tahiti, referred to as Study of Nude Back, which Gauguin made note of around April of 1892 in his Carnet de Tahiti. It was painted in Mataiea, based on a color drawing in the same sketchbook, probably made with the model present and a barely visible grid, useful when the time came to repeat the composition on a larger scale. When it was shown in Paris in 1893, Thadée Natanson gave a concise description of its theme: “sitting on the sand, only her tanned back can be seen, amidst the almost symmetrical flowers that the sea foam embroiders on the waves”. The metaphor that ties the crest of the waves, the flowers and embroidery accurately highlights Gauguin’s use of polysemic forms and the oriental quality of this motif. In terms of their form and color, the “flowers” of sea foam are also related to the seashell on the beach and the flowers that are in the print of the sarong draped over the woman’s right knee. In contrast to other paintings by Gauguin showing partially clothed Tahitian women, this sarong has no thickness or folds of its own; it is painted over the woman’s knee much like the cloth in a mannerist painting or a tattoo—a true “embroidery” on the skin and the original form of dressing used by many inhabitants of the South Seas.
Dario Gamboni