Museum Folkwang
Contes barbares
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Contes barbares, 1902

  • Barbarian Tales
  • Oil on canvas
  • 131,5 x 90,5 cm
  • Acquired in 1903/04 for the Museum Folkwang, Hagen, since 1922 Essen
  • Inv. G 54
  • CommentaryFascinated by Tohotaua's appearance, Gauguin had the young woman sit as model a second time. In what his perhaps his loveliest and most mysterious painting, ›Contes Barbares‹ from 1902, she gazes at us once again: we recognize her in the figure kneeing in the foreground with the red-orange luminous hair. The figure on the left edge of the picture is a portrait of a young man who had already served as model for Gauguin's ›Marquisian à la cape rouge‹ (Musée des Beaux Arts, Liege). Past and present meet in this painting imbued with the painter's clearly discernable death wish. Pointing to the past is especially the depiction of his friend Jacob Meyer de Haan, who had died in 1895 and who he had met in 1889 in La Pouldu in Brittany, where Gauguin had painted a portrait of him with the strange title of Nirvana. 13 years later Gauguin re-used this diabolic-looking image of his friend in the middle of a South Sea landscape. White tufts of smoke seem like departing clouds after a cleansing shower, fruit like sacrificial offerings, and the lilies are ancient symbols for a simultaneous announcement of life and death.
    In October 1903, five of Gauguin's paintings arrived in Hagen, among them the ›Contes Barbares‹. In his letter of reception, Osthaus complained about the high price. Ambroise Vollard, Gauguin's long-serving art dealer pointed out that he had not been able to keep to the previous summer’s price, as the artist had died in the meantime. So, Karl Ernst Osthaus initially hesitated in 1904 to acquire this important work together with others by the French artist.
  • ProvenanceKünstler
    1903/04, Ambroise Vollard, Paris
    1903/1904 - 1922, Kauf bei Vollard, Museum Folkwang, Hagen
    1922, Kauf, Museum Folkwang, Essen
  • Obj_Id: 3,010
  • Obj_Internet_S: Highlight
  • Obj_Ownership_S (Verantw):Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Obj_SpareNField01_N (Verantw): 187
  • Obj_Creditline_S: Museum Folkwang, Essen, Gemäldesammlung
  • Obj_Title1_S: Contes barbares
  • Obj_Title2_S: Barbarian Tales
  • Obj_PartDescription_S (Titelerg):
  • Obj_SpareMField01_M (Alle Titel): Contes barbares Barbarian Tales Contes barbares Barbarische Erzählungen
  • Obj_Dating_S: 1902
  • Jahr von: 1,902
  • Jahr bis: 1,902
  • Obj_IdentNr_S: G 54
  • Obj_IdentNrSort_S: G 0054
  • Obj_Classification_S (Objtyp): Painting
  • Obj_Crate_S: 131,5 x 90,5 cm
  • Obj_Material_S: Oil on canvas
  • Obj_Technique_S:
  • Obj_SpareSField01_S (Mat./Tech.): Oil on canvas
  • Obj_AccNote_S (Erwerb): Acquired in 1903/04 for the Museum Folkwang, Hagen, since 1922 Essen
  • Obj_PermanentLocation_S (Standort):
  • Obj_Condition1_S (Druckerei):
  • Obj_Condition2_S (Auflage):
  • Obj_Subtype_S (Genre):
  • Obj_Rights_S: © Museum Folkwang, Essen
    Photo: Museum Folkwang
Commentary
Artists
Provenance

Fascinated by Tohotaua's appearance, Gauguin had the young woman sit as model a second time. In what his perhaps his loveliest and most mysterious painting, ›Contes Barbares‹ from 1902, she gazes at us once again: we recognize her in the figure kneeing in the foreground with the red-orange luminous hair. The figure on the left edge of the picture is a portrait of a young man who had already served as model for Gauguin's ›Marquisian à la cape rouge‹ (Musée des Beaux Arts, Liege). Past and present meet in this painting imbued with the painter's clearly discernable death wish. Pointing to the past is especially the depiction of his friend Jacob Meyer de Haan, who had died in 1895 and who he had met in 1889 in La Pouldu in Brittany, where Gauguin had painted a portrait of him with the strange title of Nirvana. 13 years later Gauguin re-used this diabolic-looking image of his friend in the middle of a South Sea landscape. White tufts of smoke seem like departing clouds after a cleansing shower, fruit like sacrificial offerings, and the lilies are ancient symbols for a simultaneous announcement of life and death.
In October 1903, five of Gauguin's paintings arrived in Hagen, among them the ›Contes Barbares‹. In his letter of reception, Osthaus complained about the high price. Ambroise Vollard, Gauguin's long-serving art dealer pointed out that he had not been able to keep to the previous summer’s price, as the artist had died in the meantime. So, Karl Ernst Osthaus initially hesitated in 1904 to acquire this important work together with others by the French artist.