The French artist Paul Gauguin failed to achieve wealth but shone with his avant-garde talent. Discover five stories and torments of the cursed artist.
1. Her work “When are you getting married?” sold for 265 million euros
Gauguin’s 1882 portrait of two Tahitian women in Polynesia was sold shortly after his death for seven francs. One hundred years later (or even a little more) the same work was bought for 265 million euros by a rich Qatari family.
2. Participation in the construction of the Panama Canal
The famous painter also shared the work of the workers who built the famous Panama Canal. In 1887, he described his ordeal in a letter to his wife: “I have to dig from 5:30 in the morning to 6 in the evening.
During this project, many workers lost their lives, 25,000 workers. Gauguin did not escape the vicissitudes of this work, having fallen ill with malaria fever.
3. A heartbreaking friendship with Van Gogh
Gauguin went to Arles to join his friend Van Gogh in his studio. The two artists had a very close relationship. They exchanged a lot, debated about colours and painted all day long. However, this relationship led them both into a deep depression. The friendship between the inseparable painters lasted only two months, ended in a violent argument and culminated in Van Gogh cutting off his own ear.
4. His flat stripped by one of his mistresses
The painter’s financial difficulties forced him to return to France in 1894. Shortly after settling with his mistress, Annah la Javanaise, in Concarneau, Gauguin became involved in a fight that landed him in hospital. Hospitalized for two months, the painter was disconnected from reality because of morphine and alcohol. On his release, Annah ransacked and robbed his studio.
5. A succession of misfortunes until his death
In 1897, the painter’s daughter, Aline, died of pneumonia. He then fell into a destructive suffering. Several months later, he suffered a heart attack. He tried to commit suicide with arsenic*.
Before his death, night and day, until exhaustion, he devoted his life to the realization of his final and great fresco: Where do we come from? Who are we? What do we do?
Although the painter found refuge in alcohol and women, throughout his life he was haunted by dark morbid ideas.
*An infamous poison during the reign of Louis XIV.
Bonus : Gauguin, an explorer of the arts
Gauguin’s pictorial works are well known to all. However, the artist experimented with many other techniques, including engraving, drawing, ceramics and sculpture.
Sources : Larousse, L’histoire de l’Art tome 20