Washerwomen (1888; Arles-sur-tech, France) by Paul Gauguin

Washerwomen - Paul Gauguin - 1888; Arles-sur-tech, France

Artwork Information

ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1888; Arles-sur-tech, France
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationVan Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

About Washerwomen

The artwork “Washerwomen” was created by the renowned artist Paul Gauguin in 1888 during his time in Arles-sur-tech, France. The medium used for this piece is oil on canvas. As a representation of the Post-Impressionist movement, Gauguin’s “Washerwomen” is classified as a genre painting—a depiction of everyday life—demonstrating the artist’s unique vision and style. This painting is part of the collection housed at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Turning to a description of the artwork itself, Gauguin’s composition captures the mundane task of washing clothes, a daily chore for the working class, underlining the traditional and rural aspects of French life in the late 19th century. The painting is rich in texture and color, employing a vivid palette and dynamic brushstrokes characteristic of Post-Impressionism. Gauguin’s use of bold contours and flattening of perspective marks a departure from the realism that had dominated earlier periods of art. This artistic liberty allows for a focus on the expressive potential of the scene rather than a documentary representation.

The scene depicts washerwomen bent over their work, engrossed in the laborious process of cleaning garments. The clothes take on an abstract form, blending with the river and the surrounding landscape, suggesting a harmony between human activity and nature. The colors in the artwork are applied with a degree of separation, negating naturalistic representation in favor of a more emotional and symbolic portrayal. Gauguin’s style showcases his interest in exploring the visual and emotive capacities of color and form, a key aspect of Post-Impressionist philosophy.

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