A Canoe (Tahitian Family), (1896; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

A Canoe (Tahitian Family), - Paul Gauguin - 1896; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleA Canoe (Tahitian Family),
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1896; French Polynesia
Dimensions96 x 130.5 cm
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

About A Canoe (Tahitian Family),

The artwork titled “A Canoe (Tahitian Family)” was created by the French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin in 1896 during his time in French Polynesia. It exemplifies the Cloisonnism style, employing bold outlines and flat areas of color. This oil on canvas genre painting measures 96 x 130.5 cm and currently resides in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The painting depicts a serene scene with a Tahitian family. Centered in the artwork is an individual seated near a canoe, holding a bowl to their mouth, which suggests the action of eating or drinking. To the right, reclining on the canoe, another figure mirrors this action with their own bowl. The presence of the canoe and the intimate portrayal of the family provide a glimpse into the daily life and customs of the Tahitian people as observed by Gauguin.

The color palette is rich and evocative, characterized by the deep blues of the water, the warm tones of the sunset, and the earthy hues of the figures’ skin tones, all outlined in the dark, defining contours characteristic of Cloisonnism. The background suggests an idyllic, tranquil environment, with a sunset or sunrise casting vibrant colors across the sky and reflecting on the water’s surface. The simplified forms and the juxtaposition of colors contribute to the sense of harmony and tranquility, while also revealing Gauguin’s departure from European artistic conventions and his embrace of a style influenced by his experiences in the South Pacific.

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