The swineherd (1889; Pont-aven, France) by Paul Gauguin

The swineherd - Paul Gauguin - 1889; Pont-aven, France

Artwork Information

TitleThe swineherd
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1889; Pont-aven, France
Art MovementCloisonnism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About The swineherd

“The Swineherd” is an oil on canvas artwork by Paul Gauguin, crafted in 1889 during his time in Pont-Aven, France. The piece aligns with the Cloisonnism movement, characterized by bold and flat forms separated by dark contours. This movement was part of the Post-Impressionist period, where artists began to express emotions and ideas rather than just present the visible world. The genre of this artwork is landscape, and it presently resides within a private collection.

The artwork depicts a pastoral scene infused with a vibrant, dreamlike quality. Identifiable by its flat areas of color and strong outlines, the composition presents a rural landscape under a dynamic sky. At the forefront, a swineherd, depicted as a solitary female figure, is seated and watching over a small group of pigs. The palette is rich and earthy, juxtaposed with spots of bright colors, such as the blue in the sky and the red on the swineherd’s feet, suggesting footwear. These colors are not used to represent reality per se, but rather to convey an emotional resonance, which is a hallmark of Gauguin’s style and the Cloisonnism approach.

The surrounding environment employs unconventional color choices, abandoning naturalism in favor of capturing a mood. Thick outlines demarcate forms, creating a sense of depth and volume while simultaneously flattening the space, a technique that reveals Gauguin’s departure from traditional perspective. The trees, with their highly stylized shapes, envelop the scene, giving it an enclosed, intimate feeling. This synthesis of form and color exemplifies Gauguin’s exploration of symbolism and the conveyance of inner experience through outward appearances.

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