Famous People's Cause of Death Paul Gauguin

About the famous French artist Paul Gauguin, biography, history and cause of death.



Born: June 7, 1848

Died: May 8, 1903

Cause of Death: Heart attack

Physician's Notes: Because of his devotion to painting, the successful French stockbroker forsook material well-being at 35 for a life of deprivation and illness. Reduced to begging, he often went without food for days, endured violent rheumatic pains in his shoulder, and was plagued by severe colds. On Martinique, in the West Indies, he was beset by dysentery, stomach cramps, and a liver ailment. In 1891, in Tahiti,he took ill and spat up large quantities of blood. Allegedly due to an excessive use of tobacco and overindulgence in sex, his eyes dimmed and he perceived his vivid splashes of color on canvas as quite dull. In a brawl in 1894, he broke his ankle, and limped for the rest of his life. A year later, he contracted syphilis from a prostitute. Back in Tahiti, he was plagued by eczema and conjunctivitis and was again spitting blood. His illnesses, complicated by painful treatments for syphilis and severe bouts of depression, led him to attempt suicide in 1898 by swallowing arsenic. After poisoning himself, he managed to drag himself back to his bed, where he expected to die. Instead, he lay helpless and in great pain for months and eventually recovered. Five years later, while serving a three-month prison term for his political activism in the islands, he died of a heart attack. Hundreds of paintings and drawings were found in his hut, and they were either destroyed or sold to tourists as souvenirs. Hung above his prison deathbed was his last painting, a remembered snow scene of a village in Brittany. After his death, it was bought for $1.50. It now hangs in the Louvre.

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