Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands)
Woodcut printed in color on wove paper
8 1/8 x 14 1/8 in. (20.6 x 35.9 cm): block 10 13/16 x 18 1/2 in. (27.5 x 47 cm): paper
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1936
Not on view
Gauguin began working on the text and illustrations for Noa Noa (Fragrant Scent) while in Paris in 1893-94 following his first voyage to Tahiti. The project was originally conceived as a narrative of Gauguin's personal and artistic perceptions of Tahiti but ultimately became something much more complex and mysterious, full of references to Tahitian creation myths and ancient Maori culture. Gauguin designed ten woodblock prints for Noa Noa, which function less as illustrations than as inspired corollaries: they bear little relationship to his romanticized autobiographical text, nor do they seem to follow any particular sequence. However, the imagery and themes of the prints - love and fear, creation and death, day and night - are in keeping with much of Gauguin's Tahitian oeuvre.
This print shows a female nude seated on a riverbank; a second woman with raised arms prepares to plunge into the river in the background. Images of beautiful young women bathing or lounging beside bodies of water reappear throughout Gauguin's Tahitian oeuvre. While this image was not meant as a literal illustration of the text of Noa Noa, it resonates with a section of the first chapter which describes women bathing their legs in the Fatana River.
The Fresh Water is in Motion
Inscription: inscribed in block, lower left: PGO inscribed in block, lower right: AUTI TE PAPE
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Prints by Paul Gauguin," February 23, 1971–April 18, 1971.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Art of Paul Gauguin," May 1, 1988–July 31, 1988.
Réunion des Musées Nationaux - Grand Palais. "The Art of Paul Gauguin," January 10, 1989–April 20, 1989.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Private Collection of Edgar Degas, MMA," October 1, 1997–January 11, 1998.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections," June 18, 2002–October 20, 2002.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "German Expressionism and France: From Van Gogh and Gauguin to the Blaue Reiter," June 8, 2014–September 14, 2014.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "German Expressionism and France: From Van Gogh and Gauguin to the Blaue Reiter," October 6, 2014–January 25, 2015.
Mongan/Kornfeld 16.II.B; Guérin 35.II
Elizabeth Mongan, Eberhardt W. Kornfeld, Harold Joachim Paul Gauguin: Catalogue Raisonné of His Prints. Bern, Switzerland, 1988.
Richard Brettell, Françoise Cachin, Claire Frèches-Thory, Charles F. Stuckey, Peter Zegers, Isabelle Cahn, Gloria Groom, Marla Prather The Art of Paul Gauguin. Ex. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, May 1-July 31, 1988; Art Institute of Chicago, Sept. 17-Dec. 11, 1988; Grand Palais, Paris, Jan. 10-Apr. 20, 1989. Washington, D.C., 1988, cat. no. 167c, p. 327.
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. 97, pp. 123, 224, ill.
Artist: Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands) Date: 1894Medium: Two inside covers decorated in watercolor and gouache over charcoal with graphite on heavy gray wove (blotting) paper sewn to leather; leather binding inscribed in pen and ink with additions in watercolor; multicolored silk ribbons stitched into binding.Accession: 2000.255On view in:Not on view