On the fairgrounds of the Paris World's Fair of 1889, at Volpini's Café des Arts, Gauguin exhibited a brand new suite of ten zincographs printed on bright yellow paper. Known as the "Volpini Suite," the prints served as a pictorial souvenir of Gauguin's recent travels in Brittany, Martinique, and Arles.
Here Gauguin depicts a group of women by the sea in Martinique. Some walk along a path balancing baskets on their heads while others rest upon the ground. Their graceful poses and balletic movements have a decorative, choreographed quality. Gauguin was enchanted by the women he encountered on the French Caribbean island, as he described in a letter: "The thing that makes me smile the most are the figures, and each day it's a continual coming and going of negresses dressed up in colored garments with graceful movements infinitely varied." The title of the work refers to a fable by Jean de la Fontaine.
Les Cigales et les fourmis
Signature: Signed and inscribed in plate, lower left: Paul Gauguin / Les Cigales et les fourmis
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture, Chicago and New York, 1959," April 23, 1959–May 31, 1959.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Prints by Paul Gauguin," February 23, 1971–April 18, 1971.
Van Gogh Museum. "Theo van Gogh, 1857-1891: Art Dealer, Collector, and Brother of Vincent," June 24, 1999–September 5, 1999.
Musée d'Orsay. "Theo van Gogh, 1857-1891: Art Dealer, Collector, and Brother of Vincent," September 27, 1999–January 9, 2000.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections," June 18, 2002–October 20, 2002.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Gauguin: Metamorphoses," March 8, 2014–June 8, 2014.
Guérin 10; Mongan/Kornfeld 5.A.b
Elizabeth Mongan, Eberhardt W. Kornfeld, Harold Joachim Paul Gauguin: Catalogue Raisonné of His Prints. Bern, Switzerland, 1988.
Colta Ives, Susan Alyson Stein, Charlotte Hale, Marjorie Shelley The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, New York, 2002, cat. no. 27, pp. 46, 220, ill.
Artist: Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands )Date: 1898–99Medium: Woodcut printed in black ink on heavy light brown wove paperAccession: 2003.446.2On view in:Not on view