The willows (1889; France) by Paul Gauguin

The willows - Paul Gauguin - 1889; France

Artwork Information

TitleThe willows
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1889; France
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationNational Gallery, Oslo, Norway

About The willows

“The Willows” is an artwork by Paul Gauguin, a seminal figure of the Post-Impressionism movement, completed in 1889 in France. This oil on canvas genre painting is an exemplary reflection of the artist’s innovative style that characterized the post-impressionist era. Currently, this piece is housed in the National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.

In the artwork, a rustic pastoral scene unfolds. The central focus of the composition is a group of trimmed willow trees, their forms simplified and stylized in a manner typical of Gauguin’s approach to shapes and lines. The trees wear a palette of vivid oranges, reds, and hints of green, implying the flora’s transition through seasons. In the background, delicate brushstrokes and a muted color scheme depict a softly rolling landscape with a scattered selection of further willows standing against a sky with gentle hints of blue and clouds, some fluttering birds visible amidst the branches.

The foreground showcases peasants engaging in daily rural activities, captured in moments of repose and labor. A figure is seated towards the right, clothed in what appears to be traditional attire and a red bonnet, directing the viewer’s eye towards the social aspects of rural life. Meanwhile, to the left, a cow grazes on the lush grass, harmoniously integrating agriculture with the natural environment. The composition is marked by Gauguin’s characteristic flat planes of color and expressive contours, which work together to give the artwork a dreamlike, almost timeless quality. The scene evokes both a connection to the earth and a reflection on human life within a broader, serene landscape.

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