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Details
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Oviri
signed with initials 'PG' (on the right side), titled 'OVIRI' (on the front), numbered and stamped with foundry mark '4/12 C. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE' (on the back)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 29¼ in. (74.4 cm.)
Conceived in 1894; this bronze version cast circa 1950-1960
Provenance
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 30 June 1983, lot 343.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
R. Goldwater, Paul Gauguin, New York, 1957, p. 27.
C. Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, Baltimore, 1963, pp. 245-247, no. 113 (stoneware version illustrated).
M. Bodelsen, Gauguin's Ceramics, London, 1964, pp. 146-149, fig. 99 (stoneware version illustrated, p. 147).
G.M. Sugana, L'opera completa di Gauguin, Milan, 1972, p. 111, no. 394-1 (stoneware version illustrated, p. 110).
N. Wadley, ed., Noa Noa, Gauguin's Tahiti, London, 1985, p. 124, pl. 79 (stoneware version illustrated, p. 122).

Lot Essay

In 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 Noa Noa. It expressed the artist's own attraction to the wild and 'uncivilized' world in which he found himself in voluntary exile and which he had enthusiastically embraced.

Merete Bodelsen has written that "Gauguin sometimes also referred to himself as Oviri, the savage . . . The importance he attached to the statue appears from the letter he wrote to Daniel Monfreid in October 1900, in which he expresses the wish to have this stoneware figure of Oviri placed on his tomb in the Pacific" (op. cit., p. 152).
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