From Stockbroker to Artist – Paul Gauguin

Gauguin in 1891
Gauguin in 1891

Paul Gauguin (June 7th 1848 – 8 May 1903) was a stockbroker who began painting in his spare time and became serious about his hobby. His work went on to attract the interest of the Impressionists. Gauguin was one of the art world’s more colorful characters and referred to himself as a savage, and claimed to have Inca blood. Fond of alcohol and carousing, Gauguin eventually contracted syphilis. He was friends with fellow artist Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin (Man in a Red Beret), 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

In 1888, Gauguin and van Gogh spent several weeks together at van Gogh’s home in Arles, but their time together ended after van Gogh pulled a razor on Gauguin during an argument. That same year, Gaugin produced the now-famous oil painting “Vision After the Sermon.”

Paul Gauguin, Vision after the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), 1888


Gauguin was later recognized for his experimental use of colors and synthetist style that were distinguishably different from Impressionism. He often sought exotic environments, and spent time living and painting in Tahiti.


Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

In 1901, Gauguin moved to the more remote Marquesas Islands. By this time, his health had been declining; he had experienced several heart attacks, and continued to suffer from his advancing case of syphilis. On May 3, 1903, Gauguin died at his isolated island home, alone. He was nearly out of money at the time—it wasn’t until after his death that Gauguin’s art began receiving great acclaim, eventually influencing the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

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