166 Years after Paul Gauguin’s Birth

Text: Gaia Deligianni


Eugene Henri Paul Gauguin (7 June 1848 – 8 May 1903) was a French painter of the late 19th century, known for his bold colours, primitive style and paintings of young Polynesian girls. Born in Paris, Paul Gauguin spent his early childhood in Peru, where his maternal grandmother was a well-known socialist and feminist, then returned to Paris when he was six years old. He spent his late teens and early twenties in the merchant marine and navy, then settled down in Paris in 1871 and built a life as a stockbroker, with a wife and five children. Gauguin began painting part-time under the tutelage of Camille Pissarro, and fell in with the Impressionists of Paris. He left his career to take up painting full time around 1882, leaving his family for a life of art and the quest for a primitive paradise.


Gauguin traveled from Brittany to Panama and Martinique, before returning to Paris in 1888, where he met Vincent Van Gogh and formed a friendship based on art and depressive disorders.


Gauguin ended up in Tahiti in 1891, and his most well-known paintings depict Polynesian culture, especially pubescent girls, rendered in solid outlines and vivid colour. He died in the age of 54 from symptoms related to syphilis. His most famous paintings include Spirit of the Dead Watching (1892), Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (1898) and The Yellow Christ (1898).