Tahitian women (1891; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Tahitian women - Paul Gauguin - 1891; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleTahitian women
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1891; French Polynesia
Dimensions69 x 91.5 cm
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris, France

About Tahitian women

The artwork titled “Tahitian Women” is a creation by the artist Paul Gauguin, dating to the year 1891 and originating from French Polynesia. This oil on canvas painting measures 69 by 91.5 centimeters and is rendered in the style known as Cloisonnism, which is often characterized by bold and flat forms separated by dark contours. It falls under the genre painting category, capturing scenes from everyday life. Presently, the artwork is housed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

Captivating in its color and composition, the artwork portrays two Tahitian women. The woman on the left is depicted in a seated position with her back partially turned, displaying a contemplative or restful demeanor. She is adorned with a traditional garment and a flower tucked behind her ear, a common practice in Tahitian culture that signifies her availability or relationship status. The woman on the right is shown facing forward, positioned more centrally in the canvas, with a discerning gaze that engages the viewer. Her garment, which is of a bright pink hue, is patterned and contrasts with her darker skin tone. The brushwork is deliberate and confident, with strong outlines defining the figures and their traditional attire.

The setting appears to be outdoors, as a vast expanse and hints of a landscape background can be discerned. The ground, while abstract, might suggest a beach or sandy environment typical of the Tahitian landscape. Amongst the women are scattered objects including a bowl and a flower, which may have cultural significance or serve as everyday items in their lives. Such scenes were a particular fascination of Gauguin, who was known for his interest in exotic locations and the cultures of indigenous peoples, capturing their essence in his work away from the European artistic tradition of his time.

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