Paul Gauguin - Maternite 1899

Maternite 1899
1899 95x61cm oil/canvas
Private Collection

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From The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg:
Abandoning European civilisation, Gauguin spent much of the last twelve years of his life in Tahiti. Here, in the exotic world of Oceania, where life rolled on smoothly and naturally, he seemed to find that harmony which he sought. The theme of motherhood recurred throughout the Polynesian period of Gauguin's life but this work was linked with a concrete event, the birth of a son by the artist's second Tahitian wife, Pahura, in 1899. A real scene is transformed into a holy ritual and indeed the composition recalls traditional European religious paintings showing the Adoration of Christ. The central woman with her flowers and hands clasped as if in prayer majestically forms the background to the gentle woman feeding her child. The sense of significance and meaning is balanced by a decorative effect created by means of the rhythmically arranged large areas of colour and repeated contours which are characteristic of Gauguin's very individual style.