The lemon picker (1891; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

The lemon picker - Paul Gauguin - 1891; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleThe lemon picker
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1891; French Polynesia
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About The lemon picker

“The Lemon Picker” is an artwork crafted by the illustrious artist Paul Gauguin in the year 1891 while he was in French Polynesia. Gauguin, known for his pivotal contribution to the Post-Impressionist movement, has used oil on canvas to express his vision. The artwork is redolent of the Cloisonnism style, a genre marked by bold outlines and flat areas of color, which Gauguin embraced. Being a genre painting, it depicts everyday life in a natural setting and is presently held within a private collection.

The artwork showcases a vibrant and expressive scene set in a lush, verdant landscape. At the center, a figure of a local Polynesian woman is prominently featured as she reaches upwards to engage in the act of picking lemons from a tree. She is clothed in traditional attireā€”a colorful skirt imbued with a floral pattern and a light pink blouse, topped with a wide-brimmed hat that shields her from the sun’s intensity. Her pose and the focus of her gaze emphasize the meticulous and involved nature of her task.

Surrounding the central figure are the bold trunks and branches of the tree, executed with forceful, dark outlines characteristic of the Cloisonnism technique. The foliage is rendered in a varying array of greens, and the vibrancy of this palette contrasts with the deep russets and reds used for the tree’s undergrowth and the earthy tones of the ground. There’s a palpable warmth to the scene, which is further heightened by the bright, sun-drenched yellow color dominating the open space, suggestive of the intense tropical light.

Adding to the pastoral quality of the scene, in the background we see a horse quietly grazing, almost blending into the scenery with its dark, subdued tones. In the foreground, amid the patches of grass, lies a scattering of stones, their shapes and darkness anchoring the composition down to the very soil of the land. Through these elements, Gauguin captures the essence of life in French Polynesia, reflecting both the serenity and the rich, organic environment in which the local people live and work.

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