The authenticity of this work has been kindly confirmed by the Wildenstein Institute with a letter dated Paris, le 3 novembre 2000.
This delicate composition is based on the paratactic succession of Gauguin's Tahitian leitmotivs: a fragment of a woman's body, captured whilst playing in the shallow water of a pond; a full portrait of a second bather, mirrored in the surface of the pool; and the elegant silhouette of a riderless horse - an exquisite bozzetto, gracing the right extremity of the friezelike watercolour. As in Gauguin's Le cheval blanc (1898, Musée d'Orsay, W 571), the horse 'is characterised by free, gentle movement... Even the horse, the most European of animals, has become native to the South Seas' (R. Brettell, The Art of Paul Gauguin, exh. cat. Washington, 1988, p. 422).
The structure of the work is clearly indebted to the narrative sequences carved in the wooden panels - popular in Gauguin's adopted Brittany, and later decorating his house in Atuona in the South Seas. Moreover, there is a strong connection between the Tahitian watercolours and the suite of woodcuts executed between 1898 and 1899, both characterised by the a delightfully naive and stylishly archaising atmosphere.