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Paul Gaugin

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Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), a renowned French painter of the post-impressionist period. He was especially known for his bold, colorful paintings from Tahiti (where he settled down and took a native girl as a wife). Sabazius (1995) says that Gauguin’s life “provides us with an example of a man who flouted convention and abandoned material success in order to pursue his true will; and in so doing, transformed western culture.”

Early Life

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was born on June 7, 1848 in Paris. For seven years he and his family lived in Lima, Peru—the birthplace of his mother. After a sailing adventure that took him around the world, Gauguin settled down to work for a Paris stockbroker. Soon after, he wed Mette Sophie Gad, a Dane. It was during this time that his interest in painting took hold, and he studied with Pissarro to master his drawing and painting techniques.

His native life

With the market crash of 1883, he lost his job and all his money. This led to his separation from his wife and five children. Although he was determined to succeed as a full time painter, he was a total failure.

Abandoning the “civilized” life, Gauguin left for the West Indies in 1887. It was here that he developed his new style of painting.


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