Eugene Henri Paul Gauguin was a Post-Impressionist artist who was born on 7th June, 1848 in France. Paul Gauguin’s father, Clovis Gauguin was a journalist and her mother, Alina Maria Chazel was the daughter of Flora Tristan, a socialist writer. He was three years old when he moved to Peru with his family and by the time Paul turned seventeen he had started living in Orleans with his grandfather. Paul decided to join navy and went on voyages for approximately six years. As he returned to France he was more mature and was fascinated by the impressions of alluring and intriguing lands.
Paul Gauguin joined the reputable Catholic school and studied there for three years. As Gauguin turned fourteen he joined a preparatory school for the navy and studied there for three years. After completing his education in the navy school, Gauguin started working for the French Navy. Paul was on the Caribbean Sea with the French navy when he came to know that his mother had passed away. He worked as a stockbroker after returning to Paris when he was 23 and served as an affluent businessman for the next eleven years of his life. The Paris stock market deteriorated in 1882 and so did Paul’s earnings.
By 1873 Paul Gauguin was married to a Danish woman, Mette Sophie Gad. Paul and Mette Sophie together had five children over the next ten years. He decided to be a tarpaulin salesman after moving to Copenhagen with his family in 1884. Paul could not speak Danish and the Danes avoided French tarpaulins, as a result Paul could not flourish as a tarpaulin salesman. Eventually Paul gave up his career as a salesman and decided to highlight the simple beauty in the lives of crude people by painting but it was not much appreciated by his wife and she saw this as a selfish act. Few years later Paul Gauguin and his wife separated.
Paul Gauguin painted his early paintings in his free time when he was as a stockbroker. His neighborhood was surrounded by cafes where impressionists visited frequently. Paul Gauguin regularly visited galleries to get a glimpse and purchase work by various emerging artists. Paul soon became friends with Pissarro who also encouraged Paul to meet several other artists. He had his first home and a studio by 1877 across the river and by 1881 Paul started exhibiting his paintings in an Impressionist exhibition. In 1882, after the deterioration of the stock market Paul chose painting as his profession. The Market Gardens of Vaugirard and Winter Landscape are few of the early Gauguin paintings.
Paul always had an inclination for the work of French artists known as Impressionist. Paul Gauguin was not comfortable in living a life of an artist as he had always lived his life in comfort and pleasure. He left France in 1886 and lived in an artist’s colony in Brittany and a year later he left for Panama and worked as a labor. He also travelled to the tropics like Martinique where he gave more time to his paintings but unfortunately he was forced to leave Martinique, penniless and ill. Paul Gauguin once quoted “Civilization is what makes you sick”.
By 1888 Gauguin returned to Paris where he met another famous artist Vincent van Gogh and it is said that Paul returned to Paris after Van Gogh’s “incident”. Paul Gauguin tried to manifest the emotions of his subject and as a result he pushed away the impressionist movement and painted “Vision after the Sermon”. Vision after the Sermon gave birth to a new style which is now called “symbolism” and hence it is considered an essential piece of art. Although it is a blend of majestic surroundings of Brittany and his mesmerizing voyages that helped Gauguin to evolve with his own distinctive style. He spent most of his time illustrating landscapes and portraits with black outlines and vigorous colors in between. Various critiques have observed that the elegant chaos and the intangibility of the painting are narrating the most intense emotions towards the foreign and the natural.
Paul Gauguin once said “Don’t paint too much direct from nature. Art is an abstraction. Study nature then brood on it and treasure the creation which will result, which is the only way to ascend towards God – to create like our divine master.” Paul’s realistic forms and “primitive” themes has encouraged younger generation of artists to exclude the late Impressionism and adapt subjects which are more inclined towards poetry and abstraction. The work of Paul Gauguin was immensely influential to the modern art of the 20th century especially in the development of Cubism which was introduced by Pablo Picasso and Georges Barque. Independent of his art the man later became legendary and inspired various literary works with his exotic life story being the central part. An excellent example is “The Moon and the Sixpence” by W. Somerset Maugham.
By 1891, Paul Gauguin retained enough money to visit the primeval South Sea island of Tahiti. Paul at first was very pleased to be surrounded by forests, distinctive flora and fauna and the interesting people of the island and so he decided to stay and harness the beauty of the place. Although during his entire stay, Gauguin was afflicted by extreme depression and illness. Most of his paintings restore the ecstatic charm of the Tahitian culture and its women but it was fairly visible that Paul had a miserable life in that primeval society.
The miserable life of poverty and illness did not last very long and on 8th May, 1903 Paul was found dead by his neighbor. An empty bottle of Laudanum was also found beside him and it was postulated that Gauguin died from an overdose, although his doctor Vernier believed that he died after a severe heart-attack. Paul Gauguin died when he was all alone and oblivious of the impression his work would later make on the coming centuries.