Thursday, January 25, 2007


Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was born in Paris in June 1848, the son of Clovis Gauguin, a Republican editor, and his wife Aline Marie Chazal. In 1849, after Louis Napoléon came to power, the family emigrated to Peru. Clovis Gauguin died on the way. His widow and 2 children, Paul and his elder sister Mari, stayed in Lima with their rich relatives and did not return to France until 1855.

In 1868, Paul joined the navy, which he left after the Franco-Prussian War. Instead, he started to work as a broker’s agent in Paris. The first known drawings by Gauguin dated 1871, when he was in his late twenties. In 1874, Gauguin met Pissaro and other Impressionists. He traded at the stock exchange, which provided a comfortable income and he bought many of the Impressionists' paintings and had a handsome collection.

His début in the Salon took place in 1876. In 1883, Gauguin quit the stock exchange; financial troubles weren't long in waiting. In 1885, he left his family in Copenhagen with his parents-in-law. In 1891, he managed to organize a trip to Tahiti at the expense of the French government. In 1900, after a contract with Vollard, a Parisian dealer, his financial position improved, but his health was irreparably ruined.

In 1901 he moved from Tahiti to Atuana on the Island of Dominique in the Marquesas, where his colors grew even more abundant and lush, and where he executed such pink and mauve paintings as
Horsemen on the Beach. (1902) and The Call. (1902). In 1903, Gauguin was sentences to three-months in prison and fined 1,000 francs because of problems with the church and the colonial administration. Before he could begin his sentence he died, on the 8th of May at his home in Atuana. The man was not nice but his pictures are beautiful

Bonjour Monsieur Gauguin is an homage and an emulation to Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) who painted a Bonjour Monsieur Courbet (below). In 1969, it went in a sale in Geneva (Switzerland) for SF 1,3 million ($ 329,000). It was bought by Dr Armand Hammer, president of Occidental Petroleum, who had flown to Geneva in his private jet and landed in a snow storm, the last plane allowed to land. Later he was offered a huge profit by Onassis whose plane had been forbidden to land in Geneva. Hammer told the Greek the painting was not for sale.

It is now on the walls of the Narodny Gallery in Prague (Czech Rep.).

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