The Siesta

Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands )

ca. 1892–94
Oil on canvas
35 x 45 3/4 in. (88.9 x 116.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1993, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    The unaffected grace and communal ease of Tahitian women impressed Gauguin enormously. The artist worked on this painting over an extended period, incorporating numerous changes. The skirt of the woman in the foreground, for example, was originally bright red; there was a dog in the position now occupied by the basket at lower right; and the woman seated at the left edge of the porch was previously situated further to the left.

  • Provenance

    [possibly Ambroise Vollard, Paris, by 1909]; Alphonse Kann, Paris (by 1917; until 1918; one of twenty-eight works sold in April for 635,000 Danish kroners [this work valued at 100,000 Danish kroners] to Hansen); Wilhelm Hansen, Ordrupgaard, near Copenhagen (1918–23; acquired by him through a consortium consisting of Hansen, Herman Heilbuth, and their firm, Winkel and Magnussen; sold in February 1923 through Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, for Fr 100,000 to Matsukata); [baron] Kojiro Matsukata, Kobe (1923–d. 1950; his estate, 1950–54; sold November 2 through Fujikawa Galleries to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, Paris and New York, 1954–55; sold January 24 to Haupt]; Mrs. Ira (Enid A.) Haupt, New York (1955–83; sold to Annenberg); her brother and his wife, Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, Calif. (1983–93; jointly with MMA, 1993–his d. 2002)

  • Exhibition History

    Kunsthaus Zürich. "Französische Kunst des XIX. und XX. Jahrhunderts," October 5–November 14, 1917, no. 103 (as "Scène des îles Océaniques," lent by Coll. A[lphonse]. K[ann].).

    Geneva. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire. "Exposition d'art français," May 15–June 16, 1918, no. 84 (as "Tahitiennes," probably this picture or MMA 1997.391.3) [see Fonsmark 2002].

    San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Inaugural Exposition of French Art in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor," 1924–25, no. 26 (as "South Sea Island [Women of Tahiti]," lent by a private collection).

    New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from Private Collections," May 31–September 5, 1955, no. 44 (as "Siesta," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt).

    New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Loan Exhibition: Gauguin," April 5–May 5, 1956, no. 38 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt).

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture," February 12–March 29, 1959, no. 50 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture," April 23–May 31, 1959, no. 50 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt).

    New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Masterpieces: A Memorial Exhibition for Adele R. Levy," April 6–May 7, 1961, no. 44.

    New York. Guggenheim Museum. "Gauguin and the Decorative Style," June 23–October 23, 1966, unnumbered cat. (lent by Mrs. Enid A. Haupt).

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "The Art of Paul Gauguin," May 1–July 31, 1988, no. 128 (as "The Siesta," lent by Mr. Walter H. Annenberg).

    Art Institute of Chicago. "The Art of Paul Gauguin," September 17–December 11, 1988, no. 128.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 21–September 17, 1989, unnumbered cat.

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 6–August 5, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," August 16–November 11, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," June 4–October 13, 1991, unnumbered cat.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections," June 18–October 20, 2002, no. 68.

  • References

    Marius-Ary Leblond. Peintres de Races. Brussels, 1909, ill. opp. p. 214, as "Dans la case".

    Karl Madsen. Wilhelm Hansens Samling: Malerier, Akvareller, Pasteller, Tegninger af Franske Kunstnere. Copenhagen, 1918, p. 46, no. 131, ill. p. 44, as "Fra Sydhavsøerne" ("From the south sea islands").

    Ernest Dumonthier. "Une grande collection d'oeuvres françaises modernes en Danemark: la collection Wilhelm Hansen." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 42 (June-December 1922), p. 340, ill. p. 342, as "Souvenir des îles de la mer du sud".

    Gustave Kahn. "Paul Gauguin." L'Art et les artistes 12 (October 1925–February 1926), ill. p. 61, as "Case à Tahiti".

    Charles Kunstler. Gauguin: Peintre maudit. Paris, 1934, ill. p. 71, as "La sieste".

    Maurice Malingue. Gauguin. Monaco, 1943, ill. p. 107.

    Maurice Malingue. Gauguin: le peintre et son oeuvre. Paris, 1948, pl. 187.

    Paul Gauguin. Carnet de Tahiti. facsimile of Gauguin's Carnet de Tahiti. Paris, 1954, vol. 1, pp. 19–20, 28, reproduces drawings (vol. 2, pp. 24V, 45V) of seated women seen from the back, which may relate to the principal foreground figure here.

    Paintings from Private Collections. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1955, p. 31, no. 44, ill. p. 12, dates it 1893.

    Herbert Read. "Gauguin: Return to Symbolism." Art News Annual 25 (November 1955), p. 129, ill. in color on cover (detail) and pp. 130–31 (overall), dates it 1893.

    B. H. Friedman. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions." Burlington Magazine 98 (June 1956), p. 212.

    Loan Exhibition: Gauguin. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1956, p. 18, no. 38, ill. p. 53.

    John Rewald. Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin. 1st ed. New York, 1956, p. 532, ill. p. 533 (color) [3rd, rev. ed., p. 494, ill. p. 496 (color)], calls it "Siesta, Tahiti".

    Paul Gauguin. Paul Gauguin's Intimate Journals. rev. ed. [1st ed., 1921]. Bloomington, Ind., 1958, ill. p. 81 [translation of Gauguin, "Avant et après," Leipzig, 1918].

    Henri Perruchot. Gauguin, Tahiti. Paris, 1958, unpaginated, colorpl. 10.

    John Rewald. Gauguin Drawings. New York, 1958, p. 28, under no. 37, states that a charcoal drawing, "Tahitian Girl Stretched Out" (about 1893; location unknown), from Gauguin's portfolio "Documents Tahiti-1891, 1892, 1893," is a study for this painting.

    Claus Virch and Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. in Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1959, p. 51, no. 50, ill., suggest that the use of converging floorboards to represent deep space was influenced by Japanese prints and Degas.

    Bernard Dorival in Gauguin. Paris, 1961, p. 86.

    Georges Boudaille. Gauguin. New York, 1964, p. 179, ill. p. 176 (color).

    Georges Wildenstein. Gauguin. 1, French ed. [English ed. 1965]. Paris, 1964, pp. 210–11, no. 515, ill., dates it 1894; notes a figure similar to the one in the left background leaning on her right arm in "Arearea no varua ino" (1894; Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen; W514).

    Marilyn Hunt. Gauguin and the Decorative Style. Exh. cat.New York, 1966, unpaginated, ill. (color), compares it to Matisse's "Seated Odalisque" (1928; Baltimore Museum of Art).

    Phoebe Pool. Gauguin. [London], 1966, p. 8, ill. and colorpls. X–XI.

    Paul C. Nicholls. Gauguin. New York, 1967, pp. 12, 29–30, colorpl. 60, dates it 1894.

    Françoise Cachin. Gauguin. Paris, 1968, pp. 221, 284 n. 158, p. 286, fig. 160 and ill. on back cover (color), dates it 1893, based on its similarities to "Two Tahitian Women on the Beach" (1891; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; W434).

    Ronald Pickvance. The Drawings of Gauguin. London, 1970, p. 33, notes that poses and types that apppear in a sheet of watercolor and charcoal studies of Tahitian figures (1892; Musée du Louvre, Paris) recur in this painting.

    G. M. Sugana. L'opera completa di Gauguin. 2nd ed. [1st ed., 1969; Engl. ed, 1973]. Milan, 1972, p. 107, no. 340, ill., dates it 1894.

    Linnea Stonesifer Dietrich. "A Study of Symbolism in the Tahitian Painting of Paul Gauguin: 1891–1893." PhD diss., University of Delaware, 1973, pp. 142, 146–49, 210, dates it May–June 1892.

    Richard S. Field. Paul Gauguin: Monotypes. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1973, pp. 25, 50 n. 53, p. 94, under no. 69, dates it summer 1892; considers the woman ironing in this painting to be the precursor of the one in the monotype "Tahitians Ironing" (about 1900; private collection, France).

    Richard S. Field Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Paul Gauguin: The Paintings of the First Voyage to Tahiti. New York, 1977, pp. 136–41, 273–74, nn. 72, 74, pp. 327, 420, no. 36, based on preparatory sketches and stylistic grounds, states that it has been erroneously dated 1893 and dates it instead to May–June 1892.

    Michel Hoog. Paul Gauguin: Life and Work. New York, 1987, pp. 241, 244, colorpl. 135, dates it 1893 in the text and 1894 in the caption; observes the similar composition of "Te Rerioa - The Dream" (1897; Courtauld Gallery, London; W557), calling it an example of Gauguin "returning to a motif after several years and and conferring on it a different, or even opposite, meaning".

    Richard Brettell in The Art of Paul Gauguin. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1988, pp. 232–33, no. 128, ill. (color), dates it 1891–92, based on the size 50 canvas, which was only used during Gauguin's first Tahitian trip; notes that the women wear missionary dresses and clothing made from English printed fabric; observes that the setting appears to be the side porch of a low, native house built in imitation of colonial dwellings, adding that similar verandas can be found in two Gauguin landscapes of 1891, "Street in Tahiti" (Toledo Museum of Art; W441) and "Les Porceaux Noirs" (Szépmüvészeti Múseum, Budapest; W446).

    Françoise Cachin. Gauguin. Paris, 1988, pp. 155, 158, 244, colorpl. 164, states that it appears to date from the same period as "Femmes de Tahiti" of 1891 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris; W434).

    Isabelle Cahn in Gauguin: La Bibliothèque des expositions. Paris, 1988, pp. 72–73, no. 47, ill. (color).

    Arthur C. Danto. "Paul Gauguin." Nation (June 11, 1988) [reprinted in Danto, "Encounters & Reflections: Art in the Historical Present," New York, 1991, p. 192].

    Frédérique de Gravelaine. Paul Gauguin: la vie, la technique, l'oeuvre peint. Lausanne, 1988, p. 140.

    Petra-Angelika Rohde Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg. Paul Gauguin auf Tahiti: Ethnographische Wirklichkeit und künstlerische Utopie. Rheinfelden, Germany, 1988, pp. 112, 118–22, fig. 18, dates it 1892 or 1894.

    Colin B. Bailey. "La Collection Annenberg." L'Oeil nos. 408–9 (July–August 1989), p. 46, colorpl. 8.

    Françoise Cachin. Gauguin: "Ce malgré moi de sauvage". Paris, 1989, pp. 71, 73, ill. (color).

    Günter Metken. Gauguin in Tahiti: Die erste Reise, Gemälde 1891–1893. Munich, 1989, unpaginated, colorpl. 37, compares the figures in this picture with those in Bonnard's 1910 paintings.

    The Old Matsukata Collection: Occidental Art. Exh. cat., Kobe City Museum. Kobe, 1990, p. 196, no. 710, ill.

    Jérôme Coignard. "Le Salon de peinture de Mr. et Mrs. Annenberg." Beaux arts no. 92 (July–August 1991), pp. 70–71, ill. (color).

    Joseph J. Rishel in Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, pp. 92–93, 189–91, ill. (color and black and white), dates it 1892–94; notes that Gauguin owned postcards of frescoes by Giotto and the Italian primitives whose influence is apparent in the foreground figure in this picture; discusses numerous areas of repainting in this picture and the resulting changes in composition and color.

    Pierre-Francis Schneeberger. Gauguin – Tahiti. Paris, 1991, p. 43, colorpl. 23, dates it 1894.

    Gary Tinterow. "Miracle au Met." Connaissance des arts no. 472 (June 1991), pp. 39–40, ill. in color, dates it 1892–94; suggests that it was probably made when Gauguin returned to Europe.

    Paul Gauguin. Paul Gauguin, The Search for Paradise: Letters from Brittany and the South Seas. London, 1992, pp. 64–65, ill. (color), remarks that the painting is unfinished and dates it about 1891–92, adding that the traditional "pareus" made with Western fabric and the "newfangled" veranda suggest ways in which the colonial presence is changing the lives of the islanders.

    Marianne Wirenfeldt Asmussen. Wilhelm Hansen's Original French Collection at Ordrupgaard. Copenhagen, 1993, pp. 50, 63, 77 n. 30, p. 372, no. 131, ill. pp. 22 (installation photo) and 373.

    Karyn Elizabeth Esielonis. "Gauguin's Tahiti: The Politics of Exoticism." PhD diss., Harvard University, 1993, p. 30, fig. 10.

    Gary Tinterow. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1993–1994." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 52 (Fall 1994), p. 51, ill. (color), comments on the evolution of the composition; remarks that the size of the canvas may date the work to one of two periods: 1891–94 during Gauguin's first trip to Tahiti or 1894–95 when the artist was back in France.

    Anna Maria Damigella. Paul Gauguin, La vita e l'opera. Milan, 1997, pp. 141, 152, ill. (color).

    Stephen F. Eisenman. Gauguin's Skirt. London, 1997, p. 112, ill., dates it 1891–92.

    Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Art News 97 (May 1998), p. 147, ill. p. 144 (color, installation photo).

    Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark in The Age of Impressionism: European Paintings from Ordrupgaard Copenhagen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Copenhagen, 2002, p. 20.

    Charlotte Hale in Colta Ives and Susan Alyson Stein. The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 189, 232 nn. 52, 55, dates it to Gauguin's first Tahitian trip.

    Colta Ives in Colta Ives and Susan Alyson Stein. The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 95, 222, no. 68, ill. (color), dates it probably 1891–92.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Colta Ives and Susan Alyson Stein. The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, p. 173.

    Paule Laudon. Tahiti—Gauguin: Mythe et vérités. Paris, 2003, pp. 75–76, ill. (color), dates it 1891.

    Gary Tinterow. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2002–2003." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Fall 2003), p. 35.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 166, 250–51, no. 154, ill. (color and black and white).

    Joseph J. Rishel in Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 172–77, no. 33, ill. (color).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History