GAUGUIN, Paul
(b. 1848, Paris, d. 1903, Atuona, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia)

The Beach at Dieppe

1885
Oil on canvas, 72 x 72 cm
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

In July 1885 Gauguin went to Dieppe, where he stayed at the house of a friend until October of that year, except for a few weeks spent in London. The subject matter of sea bathing was to interest him increasingly at this time, and he showed another version of the same theme at the eighth Impressionist exhibition, in which the women in the waves assume greater prominence within the picture space (the work is now in the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo). Gradually, the theme became more symbolic and the waves serve as a metaphor for sexual fulfillment. At this stage, however, the subject retains a naturalistic flavour and treatment, with a rapid impressionistic brushstroke and an attempt at representing an everyday scene. At the same time, there is a marked gulf between the four figures huddled on the shore and the sea bathers; each group seems self-contained, isolated and unaware of the other's existence, a notion that Gauguin would explore again in works like the Yellow Christ.




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