The Impressionist's Inspiration

Born in Paris in 1848, Paul Gauguin is one of the finest post-Impressionist painters. The son of a journalist originally from Peru, Gauguin moved from Paris to Lima with his family in 1849. His father died en route and the family remained in Lima for four years before moving back to France, where Gauguin received his formal education. Later he became a member of the merchant marines, traveling for six years before finally settling down in France in 1870 as a stockbroker.

When Gauguin's mother died in 1867, his guardian, a wealthy art collector by the name of Gustave Arosa, introduced him to the world of painting. Gauguin began collecting art and painting, but it wasn't until he met Camille Pisarro, who introduced him to Paul Cézanne and other French Impressionists, that he became an accomplished, full-time painter.

Gauguin moved to Panama in 1887 to work on the Panama Canal, but stayed only a few weeks before moving to Martinique, where ill health and poverty forced him back to France. In Brittany he developed the painting style for which he has become best known and became friendly with Vincent Van Gogh. In 1891, Gauguin moved to Tahiti, but after two years he returned to France. It was an embarrassing return, but Gauguin had brought back some excellent work and managed to mount an exhibition in Paris and set up a studio in Montparnasse. Unfortunately, his heart was in the tropics and he returned to Tahiti in 1895. During this period he created many of his famous works, but his poor health and lack of money, combined with scathing articles he wrote for a local newspaper, made him many enemies. In 1901 Gauguin left Tahiti for the Marquesas and settled in the village of Atuona on the island of Hiva Oa. Here he built his "House of Pleasure" and, with money coming in from Paris, probably enjoyed his happiest period. Unfortunately he died two years later and his remains are buried in the Calvaire Cemetery in Atuona.

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