Paul Gauguin was known for creating multiple self-portraits throughout his career. One of these, the Portrait De L’Artiste (Self-Portrait), was created in response to setbacks and represents his rebellious spirit. Behind him, Gauguin places the famous Manau Tupapau painting, which features a snake that could symbolize evil and temptation, or knowledge.
Aside from self-portraits, Gauguin also painted portraits of friends, family, fellow artists, and models. He was a financially successful stockbroker and self-taught amateur artist who drew inspiration from the impressionists. Gauguin’s late works included his monumental painting, “Where Do We Come From? What Are We?”
Gauguin moved permanently to Tahiti in 1895 and continued to struggle with illness and poverty. His works from Tahiti were not so much a depiction of what he saw but rather an idealized projection of what he had hoped to find. Gauguin’s painting style in this portrait and in his other works helped pave the way for the development of primitivism in art, a movement that sought to capture the essence of “primitive” cultures in visual art.