Calvaire breton (1889; France) by Paul Gauguin

Calvaire breton - Paul Gauguin - 1889; France

Artwork Information

TitleCalvaire breton
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1889; France
Dimensions92 x 73.5 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationRoyal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium

About Calvaire breton

The artwork “Calvaire breton,” created by Paul Gauguin in 1889, is an oil on canvas painting that embodies the Post-Impressionism movement. With dimensions of 92 x 73.5 cm, this allegorical painting is currently held in the collection of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium located in Brussels, Belgium.

In the artwork, three statuesque figures dominate the composition, conveying both a sense of spirituality and timelessness, akin to a religious carving or ancient totem. They are rendered with the characteristic flatness and stylized treatment of form that Gauguin is known for. The foreground presents a Breton woman, who appears disenchanted or weary, her expression introspective and solemn. She is seated near what seems to be a traditional Calvary grouping, often found in Brittany, hence the title of the piece. The juxtaposition of static, sculpted representation with that of living figures creates a dialogue between the enduring and ephemeral aspects of human experience.

The landscape is rendered with vibrant, expressive colors, characteristic of Gauguin’s style, separating the earth and sky with bold outlines. The background features a Breton landscape, emphasizing the relationship between the environment and the spiritual theme of the artwork. The color palette is diverse and rich, highlighting Gauguin’s departure from naturalistic representation towards more symbolic and emotive use of color.

Overall, the artwork is a quintessential example of Gauguin’s exploration of spiritual and existential themes through his unique Post-Impressionist lens, combining the vividness of his palette with a deep inquiry into the human condition and belief systems.

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