Posthumous Fame French Painter Paul Gauguin

About the famous French painter Paul Gauguin, biography and history of the man who achieved fame after only death.


PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903), French painter

One of Gauguin's last letters sold in 1957 for 600,000 francs. The letter stated: "I am now down and out, defeated by poverty." For the gregarious ex-stockbroker from Paris who deserted home and family to live and paint in the South Pacific, the idealistic paradise he sought never materialized. Nor did artistic success come during his lifetime, though he achieved recognition from a few European painters who were mostly as "down and out" as he was. Yet Gauguin's rebellion against "pretended rules," his efforts to convey emotional essence through painting technique, and his embrace of native culture as a fit subject of art revolutionized Impressionist painting. "His end was his beginning," as one biographer stated. A small Gauguin Memorial Exhibition in the fall of 1903 laid the basis for his future reputation, even though the first Post-Impressionist Exhibition of 1910 in London--which included works by Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Matisse--evoked ridicule from The Times. Appreciation for Gauguin increased gradually by means of occasional exhibitions until 1942--a year which coincided with the appearance of the film The Moon and Sixpence, based on W. Somerset Maugham's 1919 novel about Gauguin. Since then, prices of his paintings have risen dramatically until today his works number among the world's most expensive modern art.

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