Paul Gauguin - Barbarous Tales 1902

Barbarous Tales 1902
Barbarous Tales
1902 130x91cm oil/canvas
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany

« previous picture | 1900s Gauguin Paintings | next picture »

From Museum Folkwang, Essen:
Fascinated by Tohotaua's appearance, Gauguin had the young woman sit as model a second time. In what his perhaps his loveliest and most mysterious painting, 'Contes Barbares' from 1902, she gazes at us once again: we recognize her in the figure kneeing in the foreground with the red-orange luminous hair. The figure on the left edge of the picture is a portrait of a young man who had already served as model for Gauguin's 'Marquisian à la cape rouge' (Musée des Beaux Arts, Liege). Past and present meet in this painting imbued with the painter's clearly discernable death wish. Pointing to the past is especially the depiction of his friend Jacob Meyer de Haan, who had died in 1895 and who he had met in 1889 in La Pouldu in Brittany, where Gauguin had painted a portrait of him with the strange title of Nirvana. 13 years later Gauguin re-used this diabolic-looking image of his friend in the middle of a South Sea landscape. White tufts of smoke seem like departing clouds after a cleansing shower, fruit like sacrificial offerings, and the lilies are ancient symbols for a simultaneous announcement of life and death.