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Bouquets et céramique sur une commode
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About the item

A major example of Gauguin's still-lifes, Bouquets et céramique sur une commode displays a strong palette and a lush treatment of the flowers that herald the main preoccupations of his later career. Gauguin took joy in depicting the unpretentious subject-matter and the nature that surrounded him. Like Barbizon and Impressionist painters before him, he was attracted to pastoral themes and everyday motifs as an emblem of a pristine past, free from the complications of modern civilised life. This uncomplicated subject-matter allowed the artist to focus on his technique and on use of colour and form. With its vibrant tones applied in quick diagonal brushstrokes, the present work reveals a style reminiscent of Van Gogh's painting.\n\nExecuted towards the end of 1886, Bouquets et céramique sur une commode belongs to the period that Gauguin spent in Paris, on return from his first trip to Pont-Aven in Brittany. The artist went to Pont-Aven earlier that year, leaving the capital in his pursuit of unspoilt scenery and a simple way of life away from the metropolis. For Gauguin and a number of his contemporaries, the appeal of this part of France, virtually untouched by the effects of progress, was in the raw originality of its landscape and the traditional way of life of its inhabitants. This work epitomises the artist's life-long search for the primitive and displays the vividness and the bright, warm palette that would reach its full blossom in his celebrated Tahitian landscapes several years later.\n\nSeveral months before painting Bouquets et céramique sur une commode, Gauguin was introduced to the ceramicist Ernest Chaplet, who had trained at the Sèvres factory, and he soon started working on his ceramics with great vigour. Delighted with the challenge and creative possibilities offered by this new discipline, Gauguin executed a number of ceramics, and often placed them in his painted still-lives (figs. 2 & 3). The flowers of the present work, seemingly casually arranged in a vase and spilling out of a basket, are joined by a ceramic figurine to the far right. This unusually shaped pitcher (fig. 1) depicting a female face and titled Femme au capuchin, is presumed to date from circa 1887. Its inclusion in this composition raises a question of the execution date of the painting. Although it is possible that it was mistakenly dated 86 by Gauguin at a later stage, Daniel Wildenstein argues that the painting was indeed executed in 1886, and the sculpture itself added later to the composition (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., pp. 308-309).\n\nGauguin's contemporary Albert Aurier commented about his ceramics: 'How can one adequately describe these strange, barbaric, savage ceramic pieces, into which the sublime potter has molded more soul than clay?' (A. Aurier, 'Néo-Traditionnistes: Paul Gauguin', in La Plume, 1st September 1891, quoted in The Art of Paul Gauguin (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1988, p. 57). Both in its style and choice of subject matter, the present composition reveals a mutual influence with the art of Cézanne (fig. 4). But while Cézanne, whose works Gauguin admired, used the still-life motif for his formal pictorial exploration, Gauguin imbues this subject with a more intimate mood.\n\nClaire Frèches-Thory discussed Gauguin's ceramics: 'Having already tried his hand at sculpture with great success, Gauguin was to find in ceramics a perfect medium for expressing his love of raw materials and his decorative sense. Of an estimated one hundred ceramic objects by the artist, sixty or so remain; numerous others have disappeared, been lost, or irreparably damaged [...] Except for a few pieces thrown on the wheel and then decorated, Gauguin's ceramics were modelled by hand, allowing him to create "baroque" forms: pitchers, pots, and vases with one, two, or three openings, adorned with multiple rolled handles added on, decorated either with glazed or mat finish, sometimes inlaid with gold highlights, but most often in relief [...] Gauguin's ceramic technique was highly original, and he may be considered one of the great revivers of stoneware art at the end of the nineteenth century' (C. Frèches-Thory, 'The Ceramics', in ibid., pp. 57-58).\nSigned P. Gauguin and dated 86 (lower left)
GB
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medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Paul Gauguin

dimensions

60 by 73cm.

exhibition

Basel, Kunstmuseum, Gauguin, 1949-50, no. 9 Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Gauguin: Exposition du centenaire, 1950, no. 30 (titled Nature morte aux asters) Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent œuvres de Gauguin, 1960, no. 24bis (titled Nature morte au dahlia) Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, 5 siglos de art Frances, 1977, no. 59

literature

Maurice Malingue, Gauguin, le peintre et son œuvre, London, 1948, illustrated p. 106 (titled Fleurs sur une commode) Lee Van Dovski, Paul Gauguin oder die Flucht vor der Zivilisation, Bern, 1950, no. 84, listed p. 341 (titled Fleurs sur une commode) Merete Bodelsen, Gauguin's Ceramics, London, 1964, fig. 74, illustrated p. 106 (titled Still-life) Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, no. 209, illustrated p. 77 (titled Asters sur une commode) Daniel Wildenstein & Raymond Cogniat, Paul Gauguin, Milan, 1972, illustrated in colour pp. 26-27 Christopher Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, New York, 1980, mentioned p. 123 Victor Merlhès (ed.), Correspondance de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1984, mentioned p. 444 Daniel Wildenstein, Gauguin. Premier itinéraire d'un sauvage. Catalogue de l'œuvre peint (1873-1888), Paris, 2001, vol. II, no. 239, illustrated in colour p. 309 Ulrich Luckhardt & Uwe M. Schneede (ed.), Private Schätze: über das Sammeln von Kunst in Hamburg bis 1933, Hamburg, 2001, illustrated p. 222 Richard R. Brettell & Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark, Gauguin and Impressionism (exhibition catalogue), Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 2005, fig. 256, illustrated in colour p. 321; detail illustrated in colour p. 297

provenance

Pearson, Paris Paul Cassirer, Berlin Neuman, Berlin Dr Max Emden, Hamburg (sale: Ball & Graupe, Berlin, 9th June 1931, lot 39) Fritz Nathan, Saint-Gallen, Switzerland Paul Joerin, Basel Mrs Florence Gould, New York (1964) Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1980s

signedDate

Signed P. Gauguin and dated 86 (lower left)

time_period

Painted in 1886.

consignmentDesignation

Property from a Distinguished American Collection

creator_nationality_dates

1848 - 1903


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

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