Paul Gauguin - Riders on the beach 1902

Riders on the beach 1902
Riders on the beach
1902 66x76cm oil/canvas
Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany

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From Folkwang Museum, Essen:
'Cavaliers sur la plage', the third painting that Osthaus acquired from a group of late works of the artist, who had died in 1903, sold by Ambroise Vollard in Paris, shows a beach scene that may well have taken place on Hiva-Oa, a Marquesas Island near Tahiti. The artist, already seriously ill, had moved there in 1901. Two riders galloping from the left, in hooded jackets, without or with faces hidden behind masks, cross paths with a group of riders obviously heading towards the sea visible in the background. The painting has a fascinating coloring, which Gauguin masterly constructed on the pink-purple of the beach dominating the composition. Gauguin had already produced such beach scenes of occasionally unnatural colors during his time in Normandy and Brittany (see 'The Kelp Gatherers'). Apart from an obvious reference to Edgar Degas in the construction of the image, it articulates a tangible longing, a romantically inflected view of the broad, unending sea. References also exist to Albrecht Dürer's 'Ritter, Tod und Teufel' (1513) which Gauguin had pasted on the cover of his manuscript 'Avant et après', completed shortly before his death in 1903; the text is a look back at his artistic development.