At the Foot of the Mountain (1892; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

At the Foot of the Mountain - Paul Gauguin - 1892; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleAt the Foot of the Mountain
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1892; French Polynesia
Dimensions68 x 92 cm
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

About At the Foot of the Mountain

“At the Foot of the Mountain” is a notable oil on canvas painting by Paul Gauguin created in 1892 during his time in French Polynesia. This artwork exemplifies the Cloisonnism art movement and measures 68 by 92 centimeters. As a landscape genre painting, it presently resides in the Hermitage Museum located in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The artwork reveals Gauguin’s distinctive use of bold outlines and flat areas of color, characteristic of the Cloisonnism style, which was influenced by stained glass art. In the foreground, the earthy red soil is depicted with minimalistic plant detailing, suggesting a simple, rural terrain. A figure crouches on the left side of the artwork, contributing a human element to the scene, while another figure stands in the distance, seemingly engaged in daily activities. These human figures are dwarfed by the expansive landscape around them.

In the middle ground, lush vegetation unfolds with a striking tree taking center stage, its vibrant yellow and green foliage forming a bold contrast against the darker hues of the surrounding grove. The palm tree to the far left provides a tropical context, while the building in the background, painted in blue, hints at human habitation amidst this exotic locale.

Behind the assembly of nature and human elements, the mountain that gives the artwork its name rises. Its broad form is sketched with swift, sweeping lines; its murky color palette creates a sense of depth and emphasizes the expanse between the mountain and the life at its base. The overcast sky, painted in a somber mix of colors, gives the impression of a brooding or perhaps humid atmospheric condition, typical of a Polynesian climate.

Overall, in “At the Foot of the Mountain,” Gauguin captures both the majesty of the natural environment and the quotidian existence of its inhabitants. His use of exaggerated colors and shapes conveys an almost dreamlike quality, while the subjects themselves remain grounded in a tangible, if idyllic, reality. The landscape’s composition gives a voice to the serene yet isolated spirit of the land Gauguin so fervently appreciated.

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