Mother and Daughter (c.1891; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Mother and Daughter - Paul Gauguin - c.1891; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleMother and Daughter
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Datec.1891; French Polynesia
Dimensions73.7 x 92.1 cm
Art MovementCloisonnism

About Mother and Daughter

The artwork titled “Mother and Daughter” is an oil on canvas painting by Paul Gauguin, created circa 1891 during his time in French Polynesia. It is an exemplar of the Cloisonnism art movement, which Gauguin is known for having developed along with Émile Bernard. The dimensions of this portrait are 73.7 x 92.1 cm. In this genre, the artist captures the intimate relationship between a mother and her child through expressive color and form.

In the artwork, two figures are presented in solid, flat areas of color, a hallmark of the Cloisonnism style, which emphasizes strong outlines and bold colors. The mother, to the left, appears dignified with her dark hair flowing back from her face, exhibiting features that suggest a combination of calmness and solemnity. She wears a dark blue dress adorned with patterns, which contrasts against the brighter, warmer hues in the background. The daughter, standing closely to her right, is rendered in an orange-toned garment with a white collar, possibly signifying youth and vitality. Her expression is gentle, with eyes that seem to reflect a sense of quiet contemplation or introspection.

The backdrop is indicative of a tropical environment with lush greens and hints of a domesticated landscape, which could suggest a connection to nature and the simplicity of life in French Polynesia during that period. Gauguin’s use of color and outline not only frames the subjects but also creates a sense of emotional and physical space between the figures and their environment. The relationship between the figures and the use of color and form creates a poignant statement about the bond shared by parent and child, conveying both a sense of closeness and individual identity.

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