Paul Gauguin - Coming and going, Martinique 1887

Coming and going, Martinique 1887
Coming and going, Martinique
1887 72x92cm oil/canvas
Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid, Spain

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From Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection:
Gauguin spent nearly four months, from June to October 1887, in Martinique, and was dazzled by the beauty of the island and the richness of the motifs lying before his eyes. Shortly after his arrival, he settled in the company of his friend the painter Charles Laval in a cabin built on a property two kilometres south of Saint-Pierre: "Below us, the sea and a sandy beach to go swimming: and on either side coconut and other fruit trees, wonderful for the landscape painter. What appeals to me most are the people, and every day there are continuous comings and goings of negresses dressed in colourful finery, with endless variations of graceful movements. For the time being I limit myself to making sketch after sketch, in order to become familiar with their character; later I will get them to pose. They chat continuously while they carry heavy loads on their heads; their movements are very particular and their hands play an essential part in harmony with the swinging of the hips".
Seduced by the body language of the natives, Gauguin placed his easel by the side of the path used by the fruit carriers in order to paint their incessant "comings and goings", the title he himself gave to this picture on the occasion of the auction of his works organised in Paris on 23 February 1891 to pay for his trip to Tahiti. The scene describes the to and fro of the women who came every morning to pick the ripe fruit, guavas, mangoes and coconuts, which they carried in baskets balanced on their heads to the market in Saint-Pierre. From the notes taken by a friend of Laval, Albert Dauprat, those comings and goings took place every day in the "fruit-growing" properties, where they also bred some goats, sheep, hens and pigs.