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Unique photographs of Gauguin in Tahiti discovered

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The only known photographs of Paul Gauguin in Polynesia have been discovered in an album acquired by an art-dealer from Munich and were displayed at a special exhibition. The date and details of the image are also known: who’s that young Tahitian woman next to the artist? It seems, we see her on his paintings…
Unique photographs of Gauguin in Tahiti discovered
The image was made in 1896 by the artist’s friend. Next to Gauguin, we see his friend Doctor Gouzer, a doctor of a French ship 'Duguay-Trouin'. A young Tahitian woman, over whom Gauguin is bending, may be his teenage mistress Pahura.
Albums of Tahitian photographs taken by Jules Agostini came up for sale in a French provincial auction in July 2015. One of them was acquired by the dealer Daniel Blau and the other by the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. There were no references in the auction catalogue to photographs of Gauguin, and the lot bought by Blau was sold for €5,875.
Before that, ten years earlier, Blau’s wife Maria, when comparing Gauguin’s self-portraits and his e

Before that, ten years earlier, Blau’s wife Maria, when comparing Gauguin’s self-portraits and his earlier photographs, first identified the artist in a Tahitian group photograph. The name of the photographer and the date of the image were then unknown, and Gauguin specialists could not clear up the situation. Now, as the album have been recently acquired by the Blau, the answers are found. It has another print of the same image in it with the name of the photographer on the back, 'Agostini', who was a friend of Gauguin. And it dates the print to 19 July 1896. The album also includes another image of Gaugin with a Tahitian woman and already known image of the artist’s house in Tahiti.

Unique photographs of Gauguin in Tahiti discovered
"He was a hot-blooded Corsican, named Jules Agostini, who since 1894 had been director of public works in the colony. Agostini had two hobbies, both of which interested Gauguin. In the first place he was an enthusiastic amateur photographer and owned a large and clumsy camera he could neither carry nor mount without help, which Gauguin was willing to provide. And, secondly, he was an amateur anthropologist of no little accomplishment and was busily collecting material for some interesting papers, which he published after his return to France in various scientific journals. Gauguin was delighted to have, at long last, a friend with whom he could discuss Tahitian anthropology and mythology…" - from the book 'Gauguin in the South Seas' by Bengt Danielson, translated by Reginald Spink.

Paul Gauguin. Never
Never
1897, 60.5×116 cm
Presumably, the photograph depicts a young mistress of Gauguin, Pahura. At the time when she met Gauguin, she was fourteen and a half years old.
"I've actually had to borrow 500 francs, so as to have enough for the next few months. With the five hundred that I owe on my new house, it mounts up to a debt of a thousand francs. And I am not extravagant. I live on a hundred francs a month, I and my vahine — a young girl of about thirteen. You see that isn’t much. Then, besides, I have my tobacco to pay for, and soap and a dress for the youngster, coming to about ten francs a month. And if you could see my place! A thatched house with a studio window. The trunks of two cocoanut trees, carved into figures of Kanaka gods, some flowering arbutus, a little shed for my horse and carriage…" - Paul Gaugin wrote to Georges Daniel De Monfreid from Tahiti, making his mistress even younger.
Paul Gauguin. Motherhood
Motherhood
1899, 94×72 cm
"… the general consensus of opinion (which includes Gauguin’s) being that she was stupid, lazy, and slovenly… Pau’ura… not only had her parents but many other relatives, she disappeared at a sunrise and did not always return with a sunset…" - from the book 'Gauguin in the South Seas' by Bengt Danielson, translated by Reginald Spink.

Pahura, depicted on the painting 'Women on the Seashore' (Motherhood), 1899, bore a baby boy, whom Gauguin named Emile after his first son. The other baby of Gauguin and Pahura, a girl, was born earlier, in 1896 and died in infancy. The artist and his 20-year Tahitian woman broke up in 1901: Pahura did not want to leave for Marquesas Islands with Gauguin.
At some point, his disease has receded, and his paintings finally began to sell in Paris. The artist moved to the Marquesas Islands, built a big house and decorated it with his own wooden carvings … Gauguin wanted to grow sunflowers: at Auguste Renoir’s archive was found a receipt for the seeds and bulbs of flowers, which Gauguin asked Renoir to send from Paris to Polynesia.

… Paul Gauguin was found dead in his 'House of Pleasure' at the age of 54 years. By his bedside was an empty bottle of laudanum. It seems this time he has done everything right. Last runaway was a success.


Written by Olga Potekhina on materials by theartnewspaper.com, nytimes.com, Arthive publications and materials of the mentioned book.