Paul Gauguin
(Paris, 1848-1903, Hiva-hoa, Marquesas, Südsee)
Idyll in Tahiti, 1901
Oil on canvas, 74.5 x 94.5 cm
Signed & dated lower right: P. Gauguin 1901
Wildenstein 598
The title "Idyll in Tahiti", which appears also in the artist's catalogue raisonné by Georges Wildenstein, is appropriate to the character of this work, which was painted in the last year of Gauguin’s second sojourn in Tahiti only about one year before his death. This picture is untouched by the slightest hint of the tragic, and it possesses the paradisiacal atmosphere that Gauguin sought in the South Seas and did not entirely find. In the manner of representation and in composition it has affinities to much earlier paintings which were done on Martinique in 1887 when for the first time Gauguin - weary - turned his back on Europe. The picture is especially characterized by the serpentine tree trunks which brace the picture, the tree-tops being invisible. These slender trunks are delicately adjusted to a dominant almond shape defined by the shore at the left and the winding path at the right. The contorted trees are in effect steadied by the vertical figures of the two girls along with the two right-hand trees and the stilts of the hut, as well as the continuous horizontal at the upper edge of the picture, formed by the thatched roofs and the schooner in the bay.