This panel once carried a note by the artist: "To the unknown collector of my works, Greetings— That he may excuse the barbarity of this little picture: the state of my soul is probably the cause. I recommend a modest frame and if possible one with a glass, so that while it ages it can retain its freshness. . . ."
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): P. Gauguin 96
The artist, Tahiti (from 1896; reportedly sold or given to Dr. Gouzer, who brought it to France by 1898 [per letter from Georges-Daniel de Monfreid to Gauguin, November 11, 1898]); Dr. Nolet, Paris and Nantes; his heirs (until 1950; sold on June 30 to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, Paris and New York, 1950; sold on November 2 to Haupt]; Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt, New York (1950–his d. 1963); Mrs. Enid A. Haupt, New York (1963–83; sold in 1983 to Annenberg); her brother and his wife, Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, Calif. (1983–97; jointly with MMA, 1997–his d. 2002)
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Loan Exhibition: Gauguin," April 5–May 5, 1956, no. 46 (as "Three Tahitians," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt).
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. 94.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Paul Gauguin. Letter to an unknown collector.  [reproduced in John Rewald, "Gauguin Drawings," New York, 1958, p. 36, no. 9], in a note accompanying this picture, provides instructions for the panel's framing and care.
Daniel de Monfreid. Letter to Gauguin. November 11, 1898 [published in Annie Joly-Segalen, "Lettres de Gauguin à Daniel de Monfreid," Paris, 1950, pp. 209–10], mentions "le petit panneau que vous avez donné (ou vendu) au Dr. Gouzer" of women bathing in a landscape, probably this picture.
Georges Wildenstein. Gauguin. Vol. 1, French ed. [English ed. 1965]. Paris, 1964, pp. 222, 240 under no. 572, no. 539, ill., calls it "Trois Tahitiennes"; identifies it as the wooden panel accompanying Gauguin's letter to an unknown collector [Ref. Gauguin 1896], but argues that Monfreid [Ref. 1898] was mistaken in naming Dr. Gouzer as its first owner; states that Dr. Nolet brought it from Tahiti to France in order to sell it for Gauguin, but finding no buyer, kept the painting [see Ref. Pearson 1977].
Ronald Pickvance. The Drawings of Gauguin. London, 1970, p. 36.
G. M. Sugana. L'opera completa di Gauguin. 2nd ed. [1st ed., 1969; Engl. ed, 1973]. Milan, 1972, pp. 108–9, no. 366, ill.
Eleanor Pearson. "Three Paintings by Gauguin: Evidence in a Letter from Daniel de Monfreid." Burlington Magazine 119 (November 1977), pp. 773–74, disagrees with Ref. Wildenstein 1964, citing five letters between Gauguin and Monfreid that mention their mutual acquaintanceship with Dr. Gouzer, making it unlikely that Monfreid would confuse him with Dr. Nolet; suggests that Gouzer purchased this painting from Gauguin for Fr 100 based on information from the Gouzer family [see Maurice Malingue, "Gauguin," Monaco, 1943, p. 26]; asserts that Ref. Gauguin 1896 refers to the care of the drawing above the letter itself, not to this painting.
Richard Brettell inThe Art of Paul Gauguin. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1988, p. 416.
Catherine Barnett. "A Very Private View: Inside Walter Annenberg's Personal Paradise." Art & Antiques 6 (March 1989), ill. pp. 102–3 (color).
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, pp. 96–97, 192, ill. (color and black and white), describes the wooden support as a cabinet or chest door with one movable hinge intact on the upper right side, adding that although Gauguin rarely painted on panel, this one was probably used by choice rather than economic necessity; notes that the original household paint was roughly scraped away, leaving an irregular surface over which Gauguin applied layers of lacquer-like paint, making it the first of his "papillottant" or butterfly-like paintings with the "slightly blurred, dazzling surface not unlike the wings of an exotic butterfly".
Gary Tinterow. "Miracle au Met." Connaissance des arts no. 472 (June 1991), p. 39.
Susan Alyson Stein in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), pp. 5, 59, ill. (color), notes that the motif of the two women in red sarongs is repeated in "The Bathers" (1897; National Gallery of Art, Washington; W572).
Ronald Pickvance. Gauguin. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 1998, p. 290 under no. 114.
Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Art News 97 (May 1998), p. 146.
Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. New Haven, 2000, pp. 238–39, fig. 249.
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. 114, 119, 224, no. 94, ill. (color).
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.
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, p. 231 n. 8, p. 232 n. 53.
Marjorie Shelley 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. 234 n. 50.
Douglas W. Druick inCézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde. Ed. Rebecca A. Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2006, p. 362.
Geneviève Lacambre inIl Simbolismo da Moreau a Gauguin a Klimt. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti. Ferrara, 2007, p. 224.
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 177, 182–85, no. 35, ill. (color), asserts that Gauguin entrusted this picture to Dr. Gouzer by 1898.