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    Sale 2045

    Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale

    6 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 39

    Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

    Portrait d'homme

    Price Realised  


    Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
    Portrait d'homme
    signed 'P Gauguin' (lower right) and dated and inscribed 'Rouen 1884' (upper left)
    oil on canvas
    23 3/8 x 18¼ in. (59.3 x 46.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1884

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    In January of 1884, Gauguin moved his family from the outskirts of Paris to Rouen in the hopes of fostering new patrons among the Scandinavian business community that had grown around the city's flourishing river-port. This decision was motivated in part by Gauguin's Danish wife, Mette, who had familial ties and acquaintances there. Since the painter had given up his career as a stockbroker, making a living through his paintings became singularly important. When Gauguin joined Pissarro in Rouen the previous November to search for a suitable residence for himself, Mette, and their five children, the painter wrote, "I shall try to make some contracts in Rouen, perhaps I can sell some work to the rich merchants there" (quoted in D. Wildenstein, op. cit., p. 175). Pissarro reported to a friend, "[Gauguin has] come to see me here and he naively adds that the Rouen people are very rich and it might be easy to persuade them to buy. He's moving away from Paris to devote himself to painting and expects to win a place in art by working very, very hard (quoted in ibid., p. 590). Gauguin's participation in and success at the Salon in Oslo the following autumn (thanks in part to his brother-in-law) testifies to the earnestness of his effort to cultivate a Scandinavian clientele.

    It has been suggested that the sitter for the present portrait is the Danish ship captain Sophus Philipsen, who was married to one of Mette's cousins and likely gave her free passage when she left Rouen for a two-month stay in Denmark in late July of 1884, and again when she relocated there to seek employment as a French tutor in November of 1884. However, this identification has been disputed, since the Nordic features of the model bear surprisingly little family resemblance to images of Sophus Philipsen's twin brother, the painter Theodor Philipsen (1840-1920). Despite the uncertainly of the sitter's identity, this portrait was certainly one of the commissions that Gauguin obtained within the Scandinavian community in Rouen, and was executed at the painter's home at 5 impasse Malherne, in the same chair in which Mette posed for her portrait (Wildenstein, no. 154; Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo) shortly after Gauguin finished the present canvas.

    This accomplished and characterful portrait manifests Gauguin's effort to invent a more expressive and personal pictorial language in the early 1880s, or as he wrote to Pissarro, his attempt to paint "very broadly and not monotonously" (quoted in R. Brettell and A-B Fonsmark, Gauguin and Impressionism, exh. cat. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 2005, p. 200). Pissarro became an important mentor to the young painter after 1882, and the two artists spent numerous summer weekends painting together in Pontoise, where Gauguin also worked with Cézanne. Cézanne's radical landscapes, a few of which Gauguin owned and many of which were on view at Père Tanguy's in the summer of 1884, were crucial to the development of his own Impressionist manner and moreover provided groundwork for the genesis of his subsequent anti-naturalist, synthetist style. Commenting on this formative period, Richard Brettell has noted that "Gauguin's willingness to struggle competitively with others and to suppress his own strong will in collaborative working sessions surely contributed to the growing maturity of both his art and theory. The importance of Cézanne in this equation cannot be underestimated" (in ibid., p.171).


    (possibly) Mrs. Philipsen (acquired from the artist).
    Justin K. Thannhauser, Berlin (November 1911).
    (possibly) Anon. sale, Paris, 13 March 1912, no. 22.
    Mrs. C. Goldmann, Cologne (circa 1912).
    Hagelstange, Cologne.
    Josef Stransky, New York (circa 1924).
    Dr. Ederheimer, Frankfurt-am-Main (by 1928).
    M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
    Acquired from the above by the late owner, circa 1956.

    Pre-Lot Text



    W. Barth, Paul Gauguin, Basel, 1929, pp. 60 and 62, no. IX (illustrated, p. 61; titled Dr. Gachet).
    M. Malingue, Gauguin, le peintre et son oeuvre, Paris and London 1948, p. 88 (illustrated).
    L. Van Dovski, Gauguin, 1950, p. 339, no. 40 (titled Portrait du Docteur Gachet (l'ami de van Gogh)).
    R. Huyghe, ed., Le carnet de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1952, p. 227.
    G. Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, pp. 38-39, no. 94 (illustrated).
    J. Rewald, Gauguin, London, p. 166 (illustrated, pl. 46).
    G.M. Sugana, L'opera completa di Gauguin, Milan, 1972, p. 87, no. 13 (illustrated).
    E. Fezzi, Gauguin: Every Paitning I, New York, 1979, p. 30, no. 101 (illustrated, p. 32).
    P. Kropmanns, Gauguin und die Schule von Pont-Aven im Deutschland nach der Jahrhundertwende, Sigmaringen, 1997, p. 52.
    D. Wildenstein, Gauguin: A Savage in the Making, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings (1873-1888), Paris, 2002, vol. 1, p. 175, no. 153 (illustrated in color, p. 174).


    Cologne, Kunstverein am Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts in Cölner Privatbesitz, October-November 1912, no. 27 (illustrated).
    Basel, Kunsthalle, Paul Gauguin 1848-1903, July-August 1928, no. 18 (titled Bildnis des Dr. Gachet).
    Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Paul Gauguin: His Place in the Meeting of East and West, March-April 1954, no. 3.
    Palm Beach, The Society of the Four Arts, Paul Gauguin 1848-1903, February-March 1956, no. 2.
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Gauguin: Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York City, April-May 1956, no. 1.
    The Art Institute of Chicago and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture, February-May 1959, no. 2.
    Cincinnati Art Museum, The Early Work of Paul Gauguin: Genesis of an Artist, March-April 1971, no. 5.