Still life with white bowl (1886; France) by Paul Gauguin

Still life with white bowl - Paul Gauguin - 1886; France

Artwork Information

TitleStill life with white bowl
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1886; France
Dimensions59.5 x 72 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationKunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

About Still life with white bowl

The artwork “Still life with white bowl,” crafted by Paul Gauguin in 1886, is a quintessential example of Post-Impressionism, an art movement characterized by a more abstract form of expression than that of previous impressionist works. This oil on canvas painting measures 59.5 by 72 cm and is categorized as a still life genre. Currently, the artwork graces the collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland, offering viewers a tangible connection to the late 19th-century artistic explorations of form and color.

In the artwork, Gauguin portrays a scene of domestic tranquility and modest beauty. At center stage, a white bowl commands attention, its simple form contrasted with the texture and colors around it. Flanking the bowl are a bulbous, pale blue vase and a slender, dark vessel, both adding to the domestic narrative hinted at within the piece. Dominating the upper portion, a vibrant arrangement of red blossoms bursts forth from another vase, the flowers, and leaves depicted with energetic, impasto brushstrokes typical of post-impressionistic techniques.

The background, intentionally ambiguous, shows hints of a pattern that could suggest wallpaper or a decorative screen, contributing to the indoor setting’s ambiance. There is also a cloth draped across part of the surface, providing a dash of warm color that complements the floral tones. Gauguin’s use of contrasting colors and textures, as well as the play between the floral arrangement and the inert objects on the table, exemplifies the artist’s ability to convey deeper emotional content through the interplay of composition and palette. The impasto technique deployed in the flowers provides a tactile quality to the artwork, emphasizing the materiality of the painted surface.

This piece is a testament to Gauguin’s contribution to the Post-Impressionist movement, as it showcases his transition from the naturalism of Impressionism to a style that emphasizes the artist’s emotional response to the subject. This work predates his later, more famous forays into the Primitivism style that would come to define his legacy.

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