(b. 1848, Paris, d. 1903, Atuona, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia)
Woman with Flower (Vahine No te Tiare)1891
Oil on canvas, 70 x 46 cm
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Gauguin's disappointment, on his arrival in Papeete, at the effects of colonization which had turned the capital of Tahiti into a Europeanized shanty town, meant that in September he moved to Mataiea, 45 kilometres from the centre, where he painted this work.
This is his first major Tahitian portrait, and his model was apparently so overcome at sitting for the artist that she insisted on wearing her Sunday best. The dress that she wears demonstrates the effects of European colonization on the native Tahitians. Women were gradually abandoning the traditional pareo in favour of the less revealing Westernised dresses which the Christian missionaries encouraged them to wear. Once again, the idyllic existence that Gauguin sought had already been corrupted by Western influences.