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

Vision after the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel)

1888
Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Among Gauguin's masterpieces painted in Brittany are the Vision after the Sermon (1888) and the Yellow Christ (1889). In both paintings Breton peasants, to whom Gauguin was attracted as exotic, noncultivated types, figure prominently. Gauguin's usual bright colours and simplified shapes treated as flat silhouettes are present, but these paintings also reveal his symbolist leanings. Objects and events are taken out of their normal historical contexts.

In the Vision Breton women observe an episode described in Genesis: Jacob wrestling with a stranger who turns out to be an angel. Gauguin suggests thereby that the faith of these pious women enabled them to see miraculous events of the past as vividly as if they were occurring before them.

The painting is divided into two parts by the large diagonal tree-trunk, an arrangement taken from Japanese woodcuts. The foreground is filled by group of women, dressed in traditional Breton costumes, as they return from the Mass. The background depicts the biblical scene of Jacob's battle with the angel.

After this painting Gauguin became an influential member, even the leader of the Pont-Aven School which included the painters Paul Sérusier, Émile Bernard, Charles Laval, Louis Anquetin, Armand Seguin, Jacob Meyer de Haan.




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