(after) Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
(after) Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)


(after) Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
with raised initials 'PGO' (on the right side of the base); titled 'OVIRI' (on the front of the base); numbered and stamped with foundry mark '4/12 C. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE' (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown and green patina
Height: 29¼ in. (74.3 cm.)
Conceived circa 1893-1894; this bronze version cast circa 1955
Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London, 30 June 1983, lot 343.
Private collection, Philadelphia (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 9 November 2000, lot 106.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
H. Castets, "Gauguin," Revue universelle, no. III:xcvi, 15 October 1903, p. 536.
C. Morice, Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1919, p. 158 (ceramic version illustrated, p. 159).
A. Vollard, Souvenirs d'un marchand de tableaux, Paris, 1937, p. 197.
R. Goldwater, Paul Gauguin, New York, 1957, p. 27.
C. Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, Baltimore, 1963, pp. 245-247, no. 113 (partially glazed stoneware version illustrated).
M. Bodelsen, Gauguin's Ceramics, A Study in the Development of his Art, London, 1964, pp. 146-149, fig. 99 (painted stoneware version illustrated, p. 147; dated 1893-1895).
G.M. Sugana, L'opera completa di Gauguin, Milan, 1972, p. 111, no. 394-1 (terracotta version illustrated, p. 110).
J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso, New York, 1991, vol. I, pp. 459 and 461 (partially glazed stoneware version illustrated, p. 458; dated 1894).
C. Andréani, Les Céramiques de Gauguin, Paris, 2003, pp. 46 and 140 (ceramic version illustrated in color on the cover, pp. 47-49 and 140-141).

Lot Essay

In 1893-1894, Gauguin executed a stoneware sculpture of the Tahitian Goddess Oviri, the deity of death and mourning whose name translates from Tahitian as "savage." The goddess clutches a shewolf cub to her, a symbol of her wild power. Oviri is also the name of the melancholy song which Gauguin translated and included in his Tahitian journal, Noa Noa. In it, the artist expressed his attraction to the wild and "uncivilized" world in which he found himself in voluntary exile and which he had enthusiastically embraced.

According to Christopher Gray, Gauguin "considered Oviri amoung his finest works and desired it to be placed over his grave. There already exists three casts in plaster which have been given the surface of finished wood. One copy was given to Daniel de Monfreid. The second was kept by [Gustave] Fayet, and passed into the collection of his son, Léon. The third was kept by the artist" (op. cit., p. 245). A special cast was erected on 29 March 1973 on Gauguin's tomb in the cemetery of Atuana by the Foundation Singer-Polignac.

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