Bathers in Brittany, from the Volpini Suite: Dessins lithographiques, 1889
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)
Zincograph on chrome yellow wove paper; first edition; 9 3/16 x 7 7/8 in. (23.3 x 20 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1922 (22.82.2(9))
On the fairgrounds of the Paris Exposition Universelle 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 pictorial souvenirs of Gauguin's recent travels in Brittany, Martinique, and Arles.
This print was likely inspired by the artist's sojourn in Le Pouldu, a small fishing village near Pont-Aven, where he stayed in 1889–90, and shows a nude female figure tentatively approaching the sea. Her rustic clogs (the traditional footwear of Brittany) are discarded on the beach at lower left. The abstract, flowing forms that surround her evoke the wild and rocky shoreline of Brittany's coast. A second bather can be seen in the upper left of the composition, swimming in the waves.