PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903)
PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903)
PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903)
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PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Roger Sant Collection
PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903)

Pêcheur et baigneurs sur l'Aven

PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903)
Pêcheur et baigneurs sur l'Aven
signed and dated 'P Gauguin 88' (lower right)
oil on canvas
29 1/8 x 23 7/8 in. (74.2 x 61 cm.)
Painted in 1888
Galerie Druet, Paris (by 1908).
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 8 June 1909, lot 20.
Mme T. Courdille-Gernetz, Switzerland.
Private collection, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 8 December 1986, lot 57.
Mme Gemey (acquired at the above sale).
Private collection, Japan.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 10 May 2000, lot 14.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
M. Malingue, Gauguin, Le peintre et son oeuvre, Paris, 1948, no. 115 (illustrated; titled Le Pêcheur à la ligne and dated 1887).
L. Van Dovski, Paul Gauguin, oder die Flucht von der Zivilisation, Zurich, 1950, p. 342, no. 111 (titled Le pêcheur à la ligne).
Y. Thirion, "L’influence de l’estampe japonaise dans l’oeuvre de Gauguin" in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Paris, January-April 1956, p. 104 (illustrated, p. 104, fig. 8; titled La barque).
R. Cogniat and J. Rewald, Paul Gauguin, A Sketchbook, New York, 1961, p. 24, no. 264.
G. Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, vol. I, p. 98, no. 264 (illustrated).
G.M. Sugana, Tout l’œuvre peint de Gauguin, Paris, 1981, pp. 92-93, no. 96 (illustrated, p. 92).
D. Wildenstein, Gauguin: A Savage in the Making, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Milan, 2002, vol. II, pp. 432-433, no. 300 (illustrated in color, p. 432).
Paris, Galerie Schmit, 25e exposition, Maîtres français, XIXe-XXe siècles, May-July 1987, no. 25 (illustrated in color).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Painted in late summer of 1888, Paul Gauguin’s cheur et baigneurs sur l’Aven depicts a fisherman and several intrepid bathers on the shallow banks of the River Aven in Brittany. The human figures in the scene are utterly dwarfed by the colorful landscape that surrounds them. Simple wooden fishing boats float on the surface of the water, which is alive with ripples and reflections—the impressions of the colors, shadows and shapes of the landscape flanking the river. Gauguin observed this rocky cove from above, ensconced on the downward slope of the Mont Saint-Guénolé in the small town of Pont-Aven. This vivid, evocative painterly landscape represents a crucial turning point in Gauguin’s career, in which he began to develop his own singular approach to modern art.
Gauguin first stayed in Pont-Aven in July through October 1886. He had been initially drawn to Brittany because of its affordability, as well as the region’s reputation as a haven for artists. Once there, he was seduced by the picturesque landscape and the charming, traditional way of life preserved by the local Bretons. Gauguin spent the subsequent winter in Paris, with a brief detour through the French colony of Martinique—but he ultimately returned to Pont-Aven in January 1888 and remained through October of that year. As he wrote to his estranged wife Mette, he aimed to “work for 7-8 months on end soaking up the character of the people and the country, which is essential if you want to paint anything good” (quoted in D. Wildenstein, Gauguin: A Savage in the Making, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Milan, 2002, vol. II, p. 365).
cheur et baigneurs sur l’Aven was not the only canvas devoted to this section of Pont-Aven. Earlier in the summer of 1888, Gauguin painted the same river from a nearly identical vantage point, Petit Breton au bord de l’Aven ou La rivière blanche (Wildenstein, no. 285; Museé de Grenoble). However, the Grenoble picture represents a more traditional approach in arranging a landscape and creating the illusion of spatial depth. In contrast, cheur et baigneurs sur l’Aven demonstrates a much more extreme compression of three-dimensional space, and a sharp, oblique perspective of the edge of the mountain leading to the river. The composition of the present work is also much more abruptly cropped than the Grenoble landscape, resulting in a more radically-constructed view.
The comparison of these two paintings, separated in execution by mere weeks, suggests the transformative nature of Gauguin’s encounter with Emile Bernard in August 1888. Bernard—nearly twenty years Gauguin’s junior—initiated a theoretical and practical dialogue with the elder artist; his visit to Pont-Aven coincided with several important formal changes in Gauguin’s work. As Daniel Wildenstein concluded, “One thing is certain: Bernard’s presence gave a remarkable new impulse to Gauguin’s experimentation, triggering a period of unprecedented stylistic upheaval” (ibid., p. 429).
Through his collaboration with Bernard, as well as his ongoing correspondence with Vincent van Gogh, Gauguin became intrigued by japonisme—which refers to the European obsession with and emulation of Japanese woodcut prints, with their clear, linear articulations of color and shape. Gauguin was also moved by contemporary French Symbolism, with its emphasis on mysticism and spiritual meaning. According to Wildenstein, this productive summer “kindled in him a spiritual flame, elating his awareness of his artistic mission and indirectly encouraging him to infuse his works with messages, thoughts and meanings” (ibid., p. 431).cheur et baigneurs sur l’Aven demonstrates this increased sensitivity to the emotional and psychological sensations produced by the Breton landscape.
Unlike Bernard, however, Gauguin was not totally prepared to abandon pattern and texture in favor of flat shards of color delineated with black. In this sense, he stopped short of Bernard’s Cloisonnisme, and instead clung to a looser painterly facture—displaying his own artistic roots in Impressionism. Gauguin was inspired, however, to embrace a much brighter, more intense color palette, which deviated significantly from the muted earth tones of his earlier canvases. cheur et baigneurs sur l’Aven, for example, is comprised of sky blue, lavender, lime green and salmon pink bursts—prefiguring the brilliant Tahitian coloration that would eventually become his signature.

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