Breton Boys Wrestling (1888; Pont-aven, France) by Paul Gauguin

Breton Boys Wrestling - Paul Gauguin - 1888; Pont-aven, France

Artwork Information

TitleBreton Boys Wrestling
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1888; Pont-aven, France
Dimensions93 x 73 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Breton Boys Wrestling

The artwork “Breton Boys Wrestling” is an oil on canvas painting created by the artist Paul Gauguin in 1888 while he was in Pont-Aven, France. This piece embodies the characteristics of the Post-Impressionism movement, distinguished by its emphasis on symbolic content, abstract form, and vivid coloration. The dimensions of the artwork are 93 cm by 73 cm. It is a genre painting, depicting scenes from everyday life, and it currently resides in a private collection.

In this artwork, Gauguin captures the rustic vigor of daily Breton life through the depiction of two young boys engaged in a wrestling match. The scene is set outdoors, with the natural environment simplified into broad fields of color. The wrestling boys are the main focus, rendered with solid shapes and fluid contours that emphasize their movement and physical engagement. One boy, clad in red shorts, has his back turned to the viewer while the other, in white, seems to be in a grasping position, possibly trying to gain leverage. Onlookers in the background, also portrayed as simplified figures, attend to the contest. Compositionally, there’s a feeling of dynamism and immediacy, as if Gauguin has immortalized a fleeting moment of childhood play.

The distinct color palette and painterly brushstrokes contribute to the artwork’s expressive quality. Gauguin’s use of color here steps away from naturalistic representation and leans toward emotional resonance and symbolic composition. The painting conveys a sense of robust life carried out in harmony with nature, drawing the viewer into a contemplation of both the specific cultural moment and universal themes of youth and competition.

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