Having spent his childhood in Peru, Paul Gauguin enlisted in the merchant navy at the age of 17, and travelled from Brazil to the West Indies, which gave him a taste for new and exotic places. From 1871 to 1882 he worked as a stockbroker before devoting himself to painting. He initially became acquainted with works of art through his tutor’s collection, and he began painting outdoors in the wake of the Impressionists. However, he adopted a number of different artistic styles during his life. His painting was similar to that of his friend the landscape painter Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), and he took part in five Impressionist exhibitions.
Gauguin subsequently turned to Symbolism, and then, from 1886, he spent a long time with a group of artists in Pont-Aven, in southern Brittany, eventually becoming their leader. It was here that he developed Cloisonnism, a style characterised by highly simplified shapes and large flat areas of colour, influenced by Japanese prints. He was also a close friend of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), whose work defies classification.
In 1891, Gauguin left for Tahiti, a French island in the Pacific Ocean. Here, he painted and sculpted, taking his inspiration from the Maori culture and mythology, making him a pioneer of Primitivism. From 1893 to 1895 he was back in France and set about making his work more widely known. In 1901, he returned to the Pacific and settled in the Marquesas Islands where he died leaving behind him works of dazzling beauty.
The only painting by Gauguin in the collection was acquired by Domenica Walter.