The 10 most famous paintings by Paul Gauguin (2023)

There are many examples of artists who never managed to be recognized in life. This French artist is another great example of this.

Paul Gauguin(1848-1903) never really focused on his art until he married in 1773. Sadly, his newfound passion led to divorce over a decade later.

Dissatisfied with Western society, he traveled the world and eventually settled in French Polynesia. Here he created some of his most famous paintings.

Gauguin was initially influenced byimpressionist artistsof the 1870s, but later developed his unique style now known as "Cloisonnism".

This style of post-impressionism takes its name from the word cloisonné, a technique used to decorate metal pieces. It revolved around making flat shapes separated by darker edges.

Today thefrench painteris considered one of the most notablepost-impressionist artistssince the end of the 19th century.

Let's take a look at some of the mostfamous paintings by Paul Gauguinso you can discover your fascinating technique

Index to hide

2. The Yellow Christ

3. God's Day

4. Never again

5. Tahitian women on the beach

6. Vision after the sermon

8. Ave Maria

9. Two Tahitian women

10. Self Portrait with Halo and Serpent

1. Where are we from? What are we? Where are we going?

  • Creation date:1898
  • Dimensions:139 × 375 centimeters (55 × 148 in.)
  • Location:Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

Where are we from? What are we? Where are we going?is the title of a monumental painting by Paul Gauguin. It is his most ambiguous work, describing the cycle of life from the perspective of Tahitian women. He added this title to the upper left corner of the work.

The artist created this painting while living in French Polynesia and going through various personal struggles. The central part shows a woman picking an apple, similar to Eve. The group of women on the right represents motherhood and the old woman on the left represents old age.

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2. The Yellow Christ

  • Creation date:1889
  • Dimensions:91.1 × 73.4 centimeters (35.9 × 28.9 in.)
  • Location:Buffalo Museum of Art AKG

the yellow christIt is a painting that Gauguin completed during a long stay in Pont-Aven, a small town in Brittany, France. This city became an arts colony and it was here that he met a large number of young emerging artists during his visits between 1886 and 1889.

Gauguin was inspired by a 17th-century wooden crucifix he saw in a village chapel. The yellow landscape in this work is a sign of appreciation to local farmers who lived difficult lives. We can see some women praying the Angelus during harvest time, an important time of the year for local farmers.

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3. God's Day

  • Creation date:1894
  • Dimensions:68 × 91 centimeters (27 × 36 in.)
  • Location:Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

The Day of the God is a painting the French artist completed while sailing back to his native France after his first stay in Tahiti. For this reason, this dreamy landscape was painted from his imagination rather than an accurate representation of the island.

The central part of the painting is dominated by a carved statue of the goddess Hina. Several natives can be seen making offerings to the statue while others perform a traditional dance called 'Upaupa'. The three women in the foreground possibly represent the cycle of birth, life and death.

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4. Never again

  • Creation date:1897
  • Dimensions:96 × 130 centimeters (38 × 51 in.)
  • Location:Courtauld-Galerie, London, United Kingdom

Nevermore is a painting completed around the same time he was painting his monumental Circle of Life. It represents one of the struggles he faced. We can see Gauguin's naked Tahitian wife, a girl named Pahura, mourning the loss of her first child with the artist.

The word Nevermore has been added in the upper left corner of this artwork and is a reference to Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem, The Raven. In this poem, a crow visits a grieving college student and answers "never again" to every question she asks. Gauguin referred to the bird as "a watchful demon bird".

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5. Tahitian women on the beach

  • Creation date:1891
  • Dimensions:69 × 91 centimeters (27.2 × 35.8 in.)
  • Location:Orsays Museum, Paris, France

Tahitian Women on the Beach is one of many Paul Gauguin paintings that focus on the women of French Polynesia. Here we see two women wearing traditional Tahitian clothing as they sit on the beach.

Gauguin produced another version that has the same composition but is slightly lighter than this one. The other version was completed in 1892 and is part of the collection of Galerie Neue Meister in Dresden, Germany.

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6. Vision after the sermon

  • Creation date:1888
  • Dimensions:72.2 × 91 centimeters (28.4 × 35.8 in.)
  • Location:Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

Vision After the Sermon is one of Paul Gauguin's most enigmatic paintings. It depicts a biblical scene of Jacob wrestling with an angel, a story told in Genesis. The left side of the painting shows a group of women leaving the church after a sermon.

What is remarkable about this painting is that it reflects the biblical story as a vision for women. It was painted when the artist was in Pont-Aven, a time when he was very resentful of Western society, and just before he left for French Polynesia.

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7. The Sunflower Painter

  • Creation date:1888
  • Dimensions:73 × 91 centimeters (28.7 × 35.8 in.)
  • Location:Museum Van Gogh, Amsterdam, Netherlands

the sunflower painteris a work that representsVincent van Gogh(1853-1890), passed awayfamous dutch artistwith whom Paul Gauguin spent two months in Arles at the end of 1888. We can see Vincent producing one of theseyour masterpiecesentitled "sunflowers', one of many paintings he did on the subject.

The meeting got off to a good start because Vincent decorated ityellow housewhere both kept beautiful paintings, including the Girassóis series. It ended in tragedy as the two men fought frequently, with Vincent cutting off part of his left ear after suffering a nervous breakdown.

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8. Ave Maria

  • Creation date:1891
  • Dimensions:114 × 88 centimeters (45 × 35 in.)
  • Location:MIT Museum, New York, USA

Ave Maria or Ia Orana Maria is a painting Gauguin completed in 1891. It was one of the first paintings he made after arriving in Tahiti. It depicts a group of women worshiping the Virgin and her son Jesus Christ, both portrayed as native Tahitians.

The composition of this painting is extremely colorful. The artist later made a sketch, in Paris in 1892, highlighting the main characters of this work. The two women greeting the Virgin Mary are based on the savings of the Javanese temple of Borobudur, Indonesia.

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9. Two Tahitian women

  • Creation date:1899
  • Dimensions:94 × 72 centimeters (37 × 28.5 in.)
  • Location:Met Museum, New York, USA

Two Tahitian Women is a painting depicting two topless Tahitian women. The woman on the right is holding a mango flower, referring to the traditional depiction of women's breasts as flowers.

These women served as models for two other paintings by the artist entitled Faa Iheihe (Tahitian Pastoral) (1898) and Rupe, Rupe (1899). Gauguin often incorporated sexual subversion into his works, and the seductive eyes of these women are a prime example.

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10. Self Portrait with Halo and Serpent

  • Creation date:1889
  • Dimensions:79 × 51 centimeters (31.2 × 20.2 in.)
  • Location:National Art Gallery, Washington, DC, USA

Self-Portrait with Halo and Serpent is an oil on panel painting by Gauguin shortly after moving from Pont-Aven to the small fishing village of Le Pouldu in Brittany, northwest France. He lived here from the end of 1888 until the summer of 1889.

This painting underscores why Gauguin is sometimes referred to as a symbolist artist. It is filled with religious symbols, such as a halo above his head, apples hanging next to him, and a snake. It is one of more than 40 self-portraits that the artist made throughout his career.

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