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

Le chapeau rouge

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Le chapeau rouge
oil on canvas
17 ½ x 20 7/8 in. (44.5 x 53 cm.)
Painted in 1886
Augusta Johanne Henriette Dohlmann, Paris (gift from the artist).
Alice Lonberg, Denmark (by 1948).
Johan Lonberg, Copenhagen (by descent from the above); sale, Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 13 May 1964, lot 1178.
Anon. sale, Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 18 March 1970, lot 2.
Waring and Yoyo Jones, Wayzata, Minnesota (great-niece of the artist, acquired at the above sale).
Private collection, California (by descent from the above).
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, June 2005.
D. Wildenstein, Gauguin: Premier itinéraire d'un sauvage, Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint (1873-1888), Paris, 2001, vol. I, p. 274, no. 220 (illustrated in color).
Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Paul Gauguin, May-June 1948, p. 11, no. 21 (dated circa 1880 and titled Nature morte med omvendt damehat og tre ferskener).
Copenhagen, Winkel & Magnussen, Gauguin og Hans Venner: En Udstillung af Malerne som Dannede l'Ecole de Pont-Aven, June-July 1956, p. 34, no. 71 (titled Nature morte med damehat og freskener).
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1970 (on loan).
Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Paul Gauguin: Artist of Myth and Dream, October 2007-February 2008, p. 192, no. 21 (illustrated in color, p. 193).

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Lot Essay

In mid-1886, Gauguin was keen to escape from the financial pressures of living in Paris and the intrigues of its art community. He arranged a loan from a relative who was a banker and in July traveled to Pont-Aven, a small town of about 1,500 inhabitants in Brittany. There he had arrived literally at land's end; beyond lay the fierce, tempest-tossed North Atlantic, and around him he could finally partake of the primitive living conditions that he felt would be instructive to his art, among rugged Celtic folk whose lives and lore had changed very little over the centuries.
Although the town was host to few tourists, it was already a favorite spot for artists, but these were mostly English and American. They usually stayed at the two hotels in town. Gauguin chose the cheapest place he could find, an inn run by Joseph and Marie-Jeanne Gloanec. At the end of July, Gauguin wrote to his wife Mette, who was living in Copenhagen with their children: "I'm working hard here, with a good deal of success; I am considered the best painter in Pont-Aven, though this does not earn me a penny more. But it could in the future. In any case, I am respected and everyone here (Americans, English, Swedish, French) clamors for my advice; I am stupid to give it to them because we are all made use of and then denied proper recognition" (quoted in C. Freches-Thory, The Art of Paul Gauguin, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988, p. 55).
Soon after his arrival, Gauguin met the painter Charles Laval and received a visit from his friend Claude-Emile Schuffenecker, who arranged shipment of some of his paintings for an exhibition in Nantes. In August, he was introduced to Emile Bernard, although they did not work together at this time. Gauguin remained in Pont-Aven for three months, returning to Paris in mid-October, and for the first time he had satisfied his yearning for the exotic. He returned to the Pension Gloanec in early 1888, and later wrote to Schuffenecker: "I like Brittany, it is savage and primitive. The flat sound of my wooden clogs on the cobblestones, deep, hollow and powerful, is the note I seek in my painting" (quoted in ibid.).
The present painting was probably executed while he was at the Pension Gloanec; Daniel Wildenstein notes that the table and backdrop are similar to those in La nappe blanche, also painted in 1886, which is inscribed "Pension Gloanec" (Wildenstein, no. 217). The hat is turned upside down so that the viewer looks inside its crown. It may be one of the large, floppy brimmed hats worn by local men, which the visiting painters adopted for their use, as seen in period photographs.
The first owner of this painting was Augusta Johanne Henriette Dohlmann (1847-1915), a Danish woman who came to Paris in 1878 to study painting and French. She may have been introduced to Gauguin through Mette. In a letter to Mette dated 24 May 1886, Gauguin (in Paris) wrote about having seen an exhibition of Dohlmann's paintings, and they probably saw each other again following his return from Pont-Aven in October. According to Wildenstein the original stretcher at one time bore the inscription (in Danish): "The painter Augusta Dohlmann received this painting from the artist in Paris."

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