Nativity (1896; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Nativity - Paul Gauguin - 1896; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1896; French Polynesia
Dimensions96 x 131 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationNeue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

About Nativity

The artwork “Nativity” by Paul Gauguin was crafted in 1896 during his time in French Polynesia. This oil on canvas piece is a representation of the Post-Impressionism movement and is categorized as a genre painting. Measuring 96 by 131 centimeters, it is housed in the Neue Pinakothek, located in Munich, Germany.

In the artwork, one observes a Polynesian interpretation of the Nativity scene, where Gauguin employs his unique style to blend traditional subject matter with his experiences in the South Pacific. Dominant horizontal lines structure the composition, perhaps guiding the viewer’s attention to the reclining figure in the foreground, which may be interpreted as an allusion to the newborn Christ in a non-traditional setting. The color palette is rich yet subdued, with earthy tones that feel characteristic of Gauguin’s later works. The presence of figures in the background suggests a community or familial setting, while the inclusion of Polynesian iconography and stylization reflects Gauguin’s immersion in the local culture and aesthetic sensibilities. The scene shuns conventional European religious iconography, embracing instead a fusion that reflects the post-impressionist’s avant-garde approach to art.

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