Sunday, December 23, 2007


Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) spent most of his time at Le Pouldu (September 1889 to November 1890) in an auberge (inn) belonging to a Mademoiselle Marie Henry, known as the Buvette de la Plage . Gauguin’s social and artistic life in Le Pouldu revolved around this inn. He slept and ate there, painted, hosted his friends and artists and “fraternized with the maid” . Gauguin and his close companion, financier, and understudy Meyer de Haan had developed a regular routine that didn’t involve much more than eating, sleeping and painting.

Gauguin and de Haan decided to decorate one wall of the room as a gift to Mademoiselle Henry. This idea, over the course of the year, grew to all four walls of the room as well as the ceiling, and included portraits of the main inhabitants, paintings depicting daily life at Le Pouldu, theological and mystical images, exhortations and mottos. The innkeeper Marie Henry, had a daughter by de Haan, and later played a negative role in Gauguin’s life: she refused to return his works, which he had to keep in her inn for some time.

These paintings were not created to please critics, not even to please potential buyers. They were created for the artists themselves to enjoy while taking their meals and entertaining each other. Those paintings are still there and can be seen on this picture to the right : this room provides an intimate snapshot of the life of Gauguin that we could not necessarily learn through his letters or other paintings .

La Plage au Pouldu (Britanny, France) was part of the fabulous Henri Ford II's collection that went for sale on May 1980 ; the picture fetched $2.9 million. It has been kept by the Fords in a for many years. Gauguin would have been mad to learn about it.But he would have been madder to learn that
the total of the sale reached $ 18.3 million. Henri Ford II had said that he would come to the sale but then told the auctioneers that there was a strike in Detroit and that he preferred not to be seen at the sale :"It would look very bad, he said, if I was seen to have made 10 million (the amount of the estimate) or more while I was telling the automobile constructors to get stuffed for $1.5." When the autioneers told him the sale had made 18 millions, he was nonplussed and said:"Well done, Jesus, people are crazy." People really ?

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