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

The Cellist

Oil on canvas, 93 x 74 cm
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore

This imposing portrait of a seated cellist is one of the last of Gauguin's French works. It was painted in the first months of 1894. Its curious title, Upaupa Schneklud, inscribed on the canvas at top left, combines the sitter's surname with a reference to Gauguin's first Tahitian sojourn.

The sitter is usually referred to as the Swedish cellist Fritz Schneklud. According to recent research, however, the cellist was Fréderic-Guillaume Schneklud, a French born in Paris in 1859. His family of German origin emigrated to Paris from Poland.

The slight resemblance of the cellist in the painting to Gauguin has led to some speculation that the painting might be a self-portrait. However, a recently discovered photograph of Schneklud leaves no doubt that the portrait is in fact quite accurate.

As for the title, "upaupa" is a traditional local dance in Tahiti, which Gauguin enjoyed during his first stay there.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.