What Was Paul Gauguin Famous For?

The French painter Paul Gauguin, is famed for his versatility in the artistic sense. A man whose repertoire included painting, sculpting, and printmaking. Gauguin was most definitely an excellent artist. Paul Gauguin was an artist in the Post-Impressionism period in art history and was relatively underappreciated during his lifetime.

What Was Paul Gauguin Famous For?
[image: paul-gauguin.net]

Born in June 1848 and died in May 1903, Gauguin made a massive deal on art during his lifetime. Many decades after his death, his works are much appreciated and well-recognized for his ability to use colors experimentally and the Synthetist style he employed, a significant departure from Impressionism.

His work influenced the French avant-garde and many modern painters, including Henri Matisse and Picasso, and he is often remembered for his friendship with Vincent and Theo van Gogh.

Early Life

Gauguin artist formulated his distinctive painting style. He carved his unique way through life, just as he did with his art. He had no professional art training and was known for his vibrant colors, simplistic forms, and power lines. On the other hand, Gauguin chose to follow his path, ignoring family and artistic norms.

Gauguin, born in Paris, traveled to Peru with his family when he was a child. On the way to South America, his journalist father died. Gauguin eventually returned to France and began working as a merchant mariner. He also served in the Navy for France before working as a stockbroker. He married Mette Gad, a Danish woman, in 1873. The couple had five children together in the end.

Gauguin's artistic inclinations were sparked by Arosa, a collection of great painters like Eugène Delacroix, and Émile Schuffenecker, a fellow stockbroker with whom he began painting. Gauguin began taking art lessons and visiting a studio where he could draw via the use of a model soon after.

Gauguin As An Emerging Artist

French painter Paul Gauguin began to paint in his leisure time but took up the craft seriously. One of his works was selected for "Salon of 1876," a prestigious art exhibition in Paris. Around this time, Gauguin encountered the famed artist Camille Pissarro, whose work piqued the Impressionists' curiosity. The Impressionists were a collection of radical artists who questioned traditional methods and subjects and were mainly dismissed by the French art establishment.

Gauguin had ceased work as a stockbroker by 1883 to devote himself entirely to his painting. He finally separated from his family and relocated to Brittany, France. "Vision of the Sermon," one of Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, was completed in 1888. The vibrantly colored picture depicted Jacob battling with the angel from the Bible. Gauguin created "The Yellow Christ" the following year, startlingly depicting Jesus' crucifixion.

Gauguin was perhaps, one of the more colorful figures in the art world. He described himself as a primitive and professed to be of Inca ancestry. Unfortunately, Gauguin developed syphilis as a result of his drinking and carousing. Vincent van Gogh, a fellow artist, was a friend of his. Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh spent many weeks in Arles in 1888, but their time together ended when van Gogh drew a knife on Gauguin while in an altercation.


At June 1891, Gauguin arrived in Papeete. Pierre Loti's work Le Mariage de Loti influenced his romantic vision of Tahiti as an unspoiled paradise. He endeavored to immerse himself in what he believed were the original features of Tahiti's culture after being disillusioned by the degree to which French colonization had degraded the society.

He used Tahitian names like Fatata te miti (1892; "Near the Sea") and Manao tupapau (1892; "The Spirit of the Dead Watching"), as well as Oceanic iconography and idyllic landscapes and intriguing spiritual themes in his paintings. Gauguin's sculptures that emanated from this period, which he gave a purposely rough-hewn aspect, were an attempt to distance himself from established Western conventions further.

Gauguin moved back to France in July 1893, confident that his new work would bring him his long-overdue fame. The outspoken artist took on the role of an exotic outsider more than ever before, having a legendary liaison with a woman dubbed "Anna the Javanese." In 1894, he devised a plan to publish Noa Noa, a book about his views of Tahiti, which he would illustrate with his woodcuts. However, this endeavor and a one-person show at Paul Durand-gallery Ruel's were not well received, and he departed France for the last time in July 1895.


Gauguin began a campaign in 1903 to expose the inadequacy of the island's security forces, particularly Jean-Paul Claverie, for directly siding with the indigenous in a matter regarding their apparent intoxication. On the other hand, Claverie was spared the wrath of the public. However, in early February, Gauguin accused one of Claverie's employees of corruption in a letter to the governor, François Picquenot.

Picquenot looked into the charges but was unable to back them up. Claverie retaliated by accusing Gauguin of libelous behavior toward a gendarme. On March 27, 1903, the local magistrate fined him 500 francs and confined him to three months in prison. Gauguin promptly appealed the decision in Papeete and began fundraising to travel to Papeete to have his case heard.

Gauguin was frail and in pain, so he resorted to morphine once more. In the early hours of May 8, 1903, he died unexpectedly.


Paul Gauguin was famous for his artistic prowess in different fields, especially painting and sculpture. While he was not appreciated very much during his lifetime, his works were highly appreciated many decades after death. One of his works is the most expensive painting, sold at about $210 million, a testament to his highly regarded works. 

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