Chaumière au flanc de la montagne Sainte-Marguerite was painted on Paul Gauguin's second trip to Brittany in 1888. Paul Gauguin had first arrived in Pont-Aven in the summer of 1886, just after the 1886 Impressionist exhibition. He was broke, but bartered for lodging with the owner of a bohemian inn that catered to visiting artists, the Pension Gloanec. Chaumière au flanc de la montagne Sainte-Marguerite, was a gift from the artist directly to Marie-Jeanne Glaonec, the owner of the famous Pension Gloanec. The painting was hung in Marie-Jeanne Glaonec's salon where the engraver Paul Émile Colin, who often saw Gauguin, recorded seeing the painting on the wall:
'À Pont-Aven, nous nous trouvions à l'hôtel de la vieille Marie, n'était-ce pas Marie Gweneck [sic]... La grande salle était décorée de peintures par petits panneaux des peintures qui avaient passé par là. Gauguin y figurait en deux panneaux, bien différents de ce qu'il faisait alors, mais de fort bonne peinture; l'un représentait des cerises [W217], l'autre un paysage avec une vache, dont on ne voyait que les trois quarts du dos, coupée qu'elle était par le cadre. Il me les a montrés lui même et a joui de mon étonnement en un large rire silencieux' (Paul-Émile Colin quoted in D. Wildenstein, Gauguin, Premier itinéraire d'un sauvage, Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint (1873-1888), Paris, 2001, p. 374).
While at the Pension, Gauguin restored his flagging self-image, essentially re-fashioning his career as a mentor-teacher of younger artists rather than as the pupil of Pissarro and Degas, as he had previously been. It is also there that he stimulated in a group of talented young artists an interest in avant-garde art theories. These artists worked essentially throughout the day, returning from their stints in the countryside to the inn where they talked, theorized and dreamed well into the night. Gauguin was the necessary catalyst for this extraordinary 'school', but he himself spent comparatively little time there between 1886 and his death in 1903. Yet even without him, the school flourished.
Pont-Aven had been a popular summer destination since the early 1870s for artists who worked, studied and exhibited in Paris, including many from other European countries and America. Artists were drawn to the area's rugged landscape and its proximity to maritime views, the temperate climate that encouraged plein air painting, the picturesque traditional costumes of the local women. On the strength of his developing ideas about painting and his increasingly innovative technique, he soon became a leading and influential figure among his fellow painters.