Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
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Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
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GAUGUIN’S ODYSSEY: SELECTIONS FROM THE KELTON COLLECTION
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

Vase avec une baigneuse

Details
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Vase avec une baigneuse
signed with initials and numbered 'PGo 71' (on the back)
reddish-brown stoneware with colored glaze and gold paint
Height: 7 ½ in. (19.1 cm.)
Executed circa 1887-1888
Provenance
Gustave Fayet, Béziers.
Léon Fayet, Arles (by descent from the above).
Stephen Hahn Gallery, New York.
Frederic W. Ziv, Cincinnati (acquired from the above, November 1966); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 2002, lot 142.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
Literature
"Sculpture de P. Gauguin," Zolotoe Runo, vol. I, 1909, p. 9 (illustrated).
C. Morice, Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1919, p. 129, no. 17 (illustrated).
C. Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, Baltimore, 1963, pp. 28, 29 and 166, no. 51 (illustrated, p. 166; titled Vase with the Figure of a Girl Bathing under the Trees).
M. Bodelsen, Gauguin's Ceramics: A Study in the Development of His Art, London, 1964, pp. 82-83 (illustrated in color, p. 83, fig. 58; dated winter 1887-1888 and titled Figure of a Bathing Girl).
M. Bodelsen, "Gauguin Studies," The Burlington Magazine CIX, no. 769, 1967, p. 221 (illustrated, fig. 52).
J.-P. Zingg, Les éventails de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1996, p. 36 (illustrated, fig. 5; dated 1887 and titled Vase à la baigneuse).
H. Dorra, "Von bretonischen Späßen zum grossen Dilemma der Menschheit. Zur Erinnerung an Merete Bodelsen," Paul Gauguin, von der Bretagne nach Tahiti. Ein Aufbruch zur Moderne, exh. cat., Graz, 2000, p. 80.
Exhibited
(probably) Paris, Grand Palais, Société du Salon d'Automne, Gauguin, October-November 1906, p. 9, no. 55 (titled Grès (Femme nue sous des arbres)).
Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Paul Gauguin: Artist of Myth and Dream, October 2007-February 2008, p. 214, no. 32 (illustrated in color, p. 215; dated circa 1888 and titled Vase with Bather).
Sale room notice
Please note the additional literature for this work, which can be viewed online.

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Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Paul Gauguin Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.
While the initial arrangement was that Gauguin would decorate the pieces that Ernest Chaplet made (see lot 305), Gauguin quickly developed a talent for making his own pottery, forging a unique and radical aesthetic, as seen in the present lot. Instead of following the traditional technique of constructing pieces on a potter’s wheel, he preferred to assemble his ceramics by hand. This practice, he believed, was essential to a new, avant-garde form of ceramics, and he called for artists to “transform the eternal Greek vase…replacing the potter at his wheel by intelligent hands, which could impart the life of a figure to a vase while remaining true to the character of the material” (quoted in G. Groom, ed., Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist, exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago, 2017, p. 47). As a result, Gauguin’s pieces have an anthropomorphic and sculptural form, often with appendages attached, their functional uses playfully subverted so that they become fantastical artistic objects.
Gauguin employed a numbering system to organize his ceramic sculptures. The number "71" is still visible in gold paint on the present work, allowing us to date it to after the artist’s return to Paris from Martinique in October 1887. His sculptural output was certainly on his mind while he was away, as evidenced by small thumbnail drawings for vases included on the pages of his sketchbook. In the present work, Gauguin quotes the nude female figure from his Deux baigneuses (Wildenstein 241; fig. 1), realized shortly before his departure. Where in the painting the figure has short dark hair, in the ceramic she has long hair which is highlighted with gold paint and adorned with a bow. In the painting, her clothes are placed on the ground, while in the ceramic they hang from a branch, thereby partially concealing her backside. Her removed Breton wooden shoes are omitted from the ceramic version, perhaps in order to endow a less specific meaning for the figure in favor of a more universal one. As a demonstration of Gauguin’s rejection of the hierarchy of mediums, this same figure would be employed in another ceramic, a zincograph, and drawings of various media, including a fan (see previous lot).
The present work is covered entirely with reddish and brownish glazes, highlighted after the firing with gold paint. It is evident that Gauguin scrutinized this richly varied range of colors closely after the firing, for the lines where the colors change he touched up with gold on top of the glaze, so that the flame-like shapes they assume are emphasized. This interest in the effect of the glaze itself, and this contouring of the color zones are a distinct feature in his ceramics. As in his painting, color was endowed with an expressive, abstract potential, rather than being solely naturalistic. The present vase was first acquired by the vintner and amateur painter Gustave Fayet, curator of the museum at Béziers who was an avid collector of Gauguin’s work.

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