An image of Breton women at a fence

Paul Gauguin

(France 07 Jun 1848 – 08 May 1903)

Breton women at a fence

Location
Temporary exhibitions gallery
Further information

Gauguin's quest for the primitive pre-ceded his ill-fated trips to Martinique and Tahiti. As a follower of Pissarro and Cezanne in his Paris years, as a colleague of van Gogh in Arles soon after, and then as co-instigator with Emile Bernard of the Pont-Aven School, he perfected a primitivising technique that could be applied equally to a Breton pastoral or a Polynesian nude. This print - one of a group of ten zincographs on distinctive yellow paper known collectively as the 'Volpini suite' - depicts two women in the regional dress of Brittany. Their characteristic wimples animate innumerable compositions of the period by this and other artists. Though a novice to the lithographic medium, Gauguin proved instantly a master. In this plate the unpredictable undulations of line and Japoniste abbreviations of form are disruptive, preventing an easy assimilation by the eye. No single element is represented whole. Instead, the image is constructed from peek-a-boo fragments that cohere through opposition rather than accord. The farmyard subject is effectively lost in the process.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.

Year
1889
Media
Print
Medium
lithograph on yellow paper
Dimensions
16.0 x 21.5 cm image; 48.3 x 63.2 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.l. sheet, black ink [printed] "P Gauguin". Not dated.
Credit
Purchased 1976
Accession number
298.1976