Tahitian woman and two children (1901; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Tahitian woman and two children - Paul Gauguin - 1901; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleTahitian woman and two children
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1901; French Polynesia
Mediumoil,canvas
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, US

About Tahitian woman and two children

The artwork entitled “Tahitian Woman and Two Children” was crafted by the French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin in 1901 during his time in French Polynesia. It is an oil on canvas painting that exemplifies the Cloisonnism style, which is known for bold and flat forms separated by dark contours. The genre of this piece is considered a portrait, and it currently resides at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

The artwork captures a serene, intimate moment featuring a Tahitian woman and two children. The composition is warm and rich in color, depicting the central figure of the woman seated in a wooden chair, her body oriented slightly to the left, providing a sense of depth and dimensionality. She wears a traditional blue dress with a white collar, her gaze and facial expression exuding a look of quiet contemplation or distant thought.

One child, who is seated on the woman’s lap, is portrayed in a frontal view, with a solemn expression and fixated gaze. There is a subtle intimacy in the way the child’s hands are placed upon an object, which appears to be a book or a toy, suggesting the simplicity and innocence of youth. The warm orange and brown tones of the item stand out vividly against the deep blues and greens of the woman’s attire.

Standing to the right of the woman is another child, appearing slightly older than the seated child, wearing a pink and white dress and cradling a white puppy in their arms. This child gazes directly at the viewer, establishing a connection that draws one into the domestic scene, while the puppy adds an element of liveliness to the otherwise tranquil setting.

The background is rendered in a mix of blues and hints of green, with the brushstrokes visible, lending texture and enhancing the overall palette of the scene. Each figure is outlined with Gauguin’s characteristic dark contours, separating them from the background and accentuating the Cloisonnism technique.

This portrait, set in the lush environs of French Polynesia, captures with it the charm and simplicity of the island lifestyle, as perceived and interpreted by Gauguin in his unique artistic language.

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