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Curiosity about the life and works of Paul Gauguin

Curiosity about the life and works of Paul Gauguin


Unconventional like few and restless, Paul Gauguin is a painter who lived in the second half of the nineteenth century. His paintings have reached very high prices and are among the best known, but few people are familiar with certain aspects of his life and works. Here are the most interesting curiosities:

The artist was born in Paris but he lived his first years in Peru

Although he was born in Paris in 1848, Paul Gauguin spent the first years of his life in Lima, Peru. His maternal grandfather lived in the South American country and Paul's family decided to join him; unfortunately, during the journey Paul lost his father. Nevertheless, the artist lived the most peaceful and carefree years during his stay in Lima.

He began painting in 1873

After spending the first years of his life in Peru, in 1855 the artist, together with his mother, returned to France. When he was seventeen years old, he enlisted and began to travel, until 1871, when he settled in Paris, where he also started working in a foreign exchange agency. Two years later he married Mette Sophie Gad, a woman of Danish origin with whom he gave birth to 5 children. It was during this period that Gauguin approached painting and he also met some Impressionist artists.

He took part in the latest exhibitions of Impressionism

Among all the Impressionists he knew, Paul Gauguin formed a strong friendship with Camille Pissarro and from 1879 to 1886, together with other members of this movement, he took part in the last five exhibitions of Impressionism. 

After living a quiet and comfortable life with his family, in 1886, following the collapse of the Paris Stock Exchange and the consequent loss of his job, the artist went through a difficult economic period and during this period he also separated from his wife. This was the beginning of a difficult time for the painter, also from an emotional point of view. For a long time, he did not even see his children, and his state of mind led him to travel first to Brittany, then to Tahiti and finally he settled in the Marquesas Islands.

He is a friend of Van Gogh

Gauguin knows the Van Gogh brothers: Vincent and Theo. Together with Vincent he spent a long period in Arles where he kept the Dutch painter company and they painted together. Thanks to this friendship, Vincent Van Gogh's health improved for some time, but one day, following a furious quarrel between Vincent and Paul, the Dutchman cut off a piece of his ear. Then, Paul Gauguin decided to leave Arles, while Van Gogh was hospitalized in an asylum, where he produced one of his greatest masterpieces: Starry Night.

He dies in prison in Polynesia

Gauguin decided to leave Europe for good and move to Tahiti, where he spent the rest of his life. It was here that, inspired by the colours, the women and the charm of the place, the painter changed his style, moving from Impressionism to a more expressive painting, rich in strong colours. 

Meanwhile, his impetuous character did not leave him alone and his anti-colonialist activity led him to the prison on the Island of Hiva Oa, where he ended his days in 1903.

Article by: Aurora Caraman

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