Paul Gauguin

(1848 - 1903)
Paul Gauguin Vision of the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel) 1888


Paul Gauguin's highly original paintings profoundly influenced modern art of the twentieth century. Now described as a 'Post-Impressionist', he was inspired to paint by Pissarro, but developed a symbolic style, using colour to express meaning. Traditions in western art and cultures outside Europe influenced his work. Gauguin's taste for travel and new experiences began when, as a child, he left Paris for Peru. In 1883 he abandoned stockbroking to dedicate himself to painting full-time. He painted in Brittany, and in Provence with Van Gogh. Gauguin travelled to Panama and Martinique and settled in Tahiti for several years. He died on the remote Marchese Islands.

Glossary terms

  • The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

  • Used to cover a range of different painting styles that emerged following Impressionism in Europe. This includes artists such as Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.