Bathers in Brittany, from the Volpini Suite: Dessins lithographiques

Series/Portfolio: Dessins lithographiques

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

Date: 1889

Medium: Zincograph on chrome yellow wove paper; first edition

Dimensions: 9 3/16 x 7 7/8 in. (23.3 x 20.0 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1922

Accession Number: 22.82.2(9)


On the fairgrounds of the Paris World's Fair 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 a pictorial souvenir 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.