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

The Schuffenecker Family

1889
Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

In October 1888, Gauguin went to Arles on Vincent van Gogh's invitation, to try and build up an artists' community which van Gogh had long dreamed to create. Gauguin arrived on October 20. By December 25, all hopes had vanished, all plans were annihilated. There was the often told tragedy, van Gogh's abortive murderous attempt, when he slashed his own ear. Gauguin fled without ever seeing again his tempestuous friend, who was always to feel bitter about this.

Gauguin returned to Paris and he spent the next few months at his friend, Claude-Émile Schuffenecker (1851-1934), a painter, art teacher and art collector. He painted here the family of his friend. Curiously, in the family portrait the wife and the children are in the centre, the husband is in the background.

Among other influences, Gauguin was influenced by Japanese prints which provided him with a model for an art attracted by the decorative effect, in which the artist respected the picture's surface, refusing to break it by false perspective and modeling and preferring to rely on unfolding lines and flat areas of colour.

Gauguin often mentioned Japanese art, as did most of the Impressionists, and he included Japanese prints in some paintings, as in The Schuffenecker Family.




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