Paul Gauguin - Barbarian poems 1896

Barbarian poems 1896
Barbarian poems
1896 63x47cm oil/canvas
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

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From Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge:
Gauguin painted this enigmatic composition of an animal god and angel during his second trip to French Polynesia. He borrowed the title from a collection of poems by Charles Leconte de Lisle, whose Poèmes Barbares (Barbaric Poems), 1862, is full of creatures inspired by the author’s imagination of Tahiti. Gauguin’s knowledge of local customs and beliefs was more extensive and informed than the poet’s, though his composition displays a similar fusion of different mythologies. The animal has been identified as Ta’aroa, the Tahitian deity who is the creator of the universe, but the winged, female figure who gestures and looks away combines elements of both Christian and Buddhist traditions.