Tahitian Landscape

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

Oil on canvas
25 3/8 x 18 5/8 in. (64.5 x 47.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Anonymous Gift, 1939
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Although the authorship of this picture was once questioned, cleaning and reexamination have securely demonstrated that it is one of a group of landscapes that Gauguin painted during his first Tahitian sojourn, showing small figures and a hut amid tropical greenery. There are drawings related to the couple and the horse in this picture, attesting to the artist’s eye for local detail. This was the first painting by Gauguin to enter the Metropolitan’s collection, by donation in 1939.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): PGauguin–9[2]

  • Provenance

    private collection, France (from 1897, purchased from the artist); [Étienne Bignou, Paris and New York, until 1935; sold to Field]; Marshall Field, Chicago (1935–39)

  • Exhibition History

    Utica, N.Y. Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute. "Masterpieces of French Impressionist Painting," May 3–24, 1953, no catalogue (continuing series of one painting a month).

    Wichita Art Museum. "Three Centuries of French Painting," May 9–23, 1954, no. 20 [see Ref. Wildenstein 1964].

    Atlanta Art Association Galleries. "Painting: School of France," September 20–October 4, 1955, no. 31 (as "Tahitian Landscape" by Gauguin).

    Birmingham Museum of Art. "Painting: School of France," October 16–November 5, 1955, no. 31.

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture," February 12–March 29, 1959, no. 32.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture," April 23–May 31, 1959, no. 32.

    Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. "Dimensions of Polynesia," October 7–November 25, 1973, no. XII.7.

    New York. Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University. "Changes in Perspective: 1880–1925," May 2–June 2, 1978, unnumbered cat. (p. 10).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections," June 18–October 20, 2002, no. 119.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 105.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

    National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. "Paul Gauguin," July 3–September 23, 2009, no. 14.

  • References

    Harry B. Wehle. "A Landscape by Paul Gauguin." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 35 (March 1940), pp. 56–57, ill., ascribes it to Gauguin, noting that it is the first painting by him to enter the museum's collection; reads the date as "91".

    Virginia N. Whitehill. Stepping-Stones in French Nineteenth-Century Painting. New York, 1941, p. 40, fig. 16, ascribes it to Gauguin.

    Maurice Malingue. Gauguin: le peintre et son oeuvre. Paris, 1948, unpaginated, no. 175, ill., dates it 1892.

    Lee van Dovski [Herbert Lewandowski]. Paul Gauguin oder die Flucht vor der Zivilisation. Delphi, 1950, p. 348, no. 259.

    Paul Gauguin. Carnet de Tahiti. facsimile of Gauguin's Carnet de Tahiti. Paris, 1954, vol. 1, pp. 12, 23–24, discusses this painting in relation to two preparatory drawings (vol. 2, pp. 39R and 63R).

    Claus Virch and Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. in Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1959, p. 43, no. 32, compare it to "Street in a Tahitian Village" (no. 31, Toledo Museum of Art); comment on Gauguin's preference for coarse canvas and burlap to give these paintings and others a "barbaric" look.

    Georges Wildenstein. Gauguin. 1, French ed. [English ed. 1965]. Paris, 1964, p. 175, no. 442, ill., ascribes it to Gauguin; calls it "Horse at Pasture" and suggests two sketches, reproduced in Carnet de Tahiti (39R and 63R) [see Ref. Dorival 1954], were the basis for this painting.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX–XX Centuries." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 3, New York, 1967, pp. 174–75, ill.

    Ronald Pickvance. The Drawings of Gauguin. London, 1970, p. 34, notes that on the verso of "Head of a Tahitian Man" (Art Institute of Chicago) is a sketch of two standing figures used for this painting; dates the drawing about 1892.

    Pierre Leprohon. Paul Gauguin. Paris, 1975, p. 330.

    Richard S. Field Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Paul Gauguin: The Paintings of the First Voyage to Tahiti. New York, 1977, pp. 163–64, 325, 329–30, no. 47, reads the date as "92" and tentatively dates it to October or November of that year, a period of "really depressed output".

    Vivian Endicott Barnett. The Guggenheim Museum: Justin K. Thannhauser Collection. New York, 1978, p. 59, observes that it is related in subject and date to Gauguin's "Haere Mai" of 1891 in the Guggenheim.

    Sjraar van Heutgen et al. in Franse meesters uit het Metropolitan Museum of Art: Realisten en Impressionisten. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1987, p. 15.

    Asya Kantor-Gukovskaya in Paul Gauguin, Mysterious Affinities. English ed. (Russian ed. 1995). Bournemouth, 1995, p. 48.

    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. 175, 190–94, 225, 232 nn. 56, 59, 60, p. 233, n. 70, no. 119, figs. 81 (color), 82 (x-radiograph), based on extensive technical analysis and stylistic evidence, including three related drawings, proposes that this picture is by Gauguin; notes that a recent cleaning reveals that the signature is original and the inscribed date is "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. 171.

    Susan Alyson Stein in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 143, 215, no. 105, ill. (color and black and white), notes that "recent cleaning and reexamination of this painting have put to rest any question of its authenticity".

  • See also