Haymaking (1889; France) by Paul Gauguin

Haymaking - Paul Gauguin - 1889; France

Artwork Information

ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1889; France
Dimensions92 x 73.3 cm
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationCourtauld Institute of Art, London, UK

About Haymaking

The artwork “Haymaking” was completed by Paul Gauguin in 1889 in France. This oil on canvas measures 92 by 73.3 centimeters and is a fine example of the Cloisonnism art movement, which is noted for its bold outlines and flat regions of color akin to medieval enameling or stained-glass work. As a genre painting, it depicts an everyday scene of rural life and agricultural labor. The artwork is currently housed in the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, United Kingdom.

The artwork showcases a bucolic scene with several figures engaged in the task of haymaking. The composition is characterized by a vivid color palette and the application of paint in thick layers, creating a sense of vibrancy and texture. The scene is set against a hilly landscape, and the figures appear to be divided into two groups: one working in the foreground, closer to the viewer, and another in the background on the crest of a hill.

In the foreground, the central figure is a man in a hat and vest who seems to be guiding an animal—possibly an ox or a horse—that is laden with a bundle of hay. The dynamic angles suggest movement and the strain of physical labor. Meanwhile, on the hill behind him, a group of figures, likely women judging by their traditional headwear and long skirts, are either gathering or carrying the hay, contributing to the collective effort of harvest.

The distinctive style of Cloisonnism is evident in the use of strong outlines that contour the figures and landscape, segmenting the composition into distinct areas of color. The limited detail and emphasis on pattern over realism imbue the artwork with a decorative quality, even as it portrays a laborious and typically less-than-glamorous rural activity.

Overall, “Haymaking” is an evocative portrayal of the pastoral and the peasant life, capturing both the idyllic and the industrious aspects of rural existence. Gauguin’s technique contributes to a harmonious and almost rhythmic visual experience that simultaneously respects and abstracts the simplicity of the scene.

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