Two Tahitian Women

Paul Gauguin French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 825

The canvases that Gauguin sent back to France from the South Seas reflect the license he exercised in fashioning images of Indigenous women. Here, he channeled classicizing nudes, while relying on gesture and facial expression to evoke the ideal "Tahitian Eve" conjured in his writings: "very subtle, very knowing in her naïveté" and enviably "capable of walking around naked without shame." Whispering confidences, offering exotic blossoms or (forbidden) fruit, the women inhabit a tropical Eden of Gauguin’s invention, in which his artistic vision—and male gaze—hold sway. These two figures also appear in his monumental works Faa Iheihe (Tahitian Pastoral), 1898; (Tate, London) and Rupe Rupe (The Fruit Harvest), 1899; (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow).

Two Tahitian Women, Paul Gauguin (French, Paris 1848–1903 Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands), Oil on canvas

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