Portrait of the Artist with the Idol (c. 1893) by Paul Gauguin

Portrait of the Artist with the Idol - Paul Gauguin - c.1893

Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of the Artist with the Idol
ArtistPaul Gauguin
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions43.8 x 32.7 cm
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationMcNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, US
Location Created French Polynesia

About Portrait of the Artist with the Idol

“Portrait of the Artist with the Idol” is an artwork by Paul Gauguin, completed circa 1893 using oil on canvas. The piece is an exemplar of the Cloisonnism art movement and measures 43.8 by 32.7 centimeters. This self-portrait genre work is housed at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, United States. Gauguin created this artwork while he was in French Polynesia, reflecting the influence of the location on his work.

The artwork portrays the artist himself in a thoughtful pose, with his chin resting on his hand and a introspective gaze. Gauguin is featured with dark hair and a prominent mustache, wearing what appears to be a heavy, dark jacket with a striped shirt visible at the collar and cuffs. To his right, there emerges a hint of an idol figure, a shade of green with its features lightly sketched in, suggesting Gauguin’s interest in and the influence of Oceanic art and symbolism. The background consists of earthy tones, with a flat, ochre element that may represent a wall or canvas behind him. The colors are rich yet muted, with the distinct separation of color fields characteristic of Cloisonnism, while the intense gaze of the artist and the direct composition invite the viewer to ponder Gauguin’s self-perception and the relationship between the painter and his subject matter. The presence of the idol suggests a dialogue between Gauguin and the cultures he immersed himself in, a theme recurrent in his oeuvre.

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